Cuba, une île bio où le miel coule à flot, alors que partout ailleurs les abeilles souffrent

Pour cause d’embargo, les agriculteurs cubains n’ont pas eu accès aux produits phytosanitaires pour protéger leurs cultures. Un article publié dans « the guardian » en février 2016, montre que ce fut un mal pour un bien. Bio malgré elle, l’île est aujourd’hui le seul endroit au monde où les abeilles sont en bonne santé. Le miel bio cubain s’exporte très bien, et l’apiculture s’y développe.

Depuis bientôt 25 ans, Cuba n’avait plus accès aux pesticides pour la protection de ses productions agricoles

Après l’effondrement de l’Union Soviétique en 1991, qui était le principal partenaire commercial de Cuba, l’île a été dans l’incapacité de se fournir en pesticides, par manque de devises étrangères et à cause de l’embargo des États-Unis. Par nécessité, le gouvernement a alors adopté une politique d’agriculture biologique, qui perdure aujourd’hui. Avec l’assouplissement de l’embargo suite à la restauration des liens diplomatiques entre les deux pays, les exportateurs de miel bio cubain constatent une forte croissance commerciale.

La production de miel bio prend une place de plus en plus importante dans les exportations cubaines de denrées agricoles

Longtemps connu pour ses cigares et son rhum, Cuba a désormais ajouté le miel bio à ses principales exportations agricoles. La vitalité de l’apiculture cubaine détonne au regard du reste du monde où l’usage massif des pesticides provoque le déclin des populations d’abeilles.
Selon Théodor Friedrich, représentant de l’Organisation des Nations Unies pour l’Alimentation et l’Agriculture (ou ONUAA) à Cuba, le miel bio est ainsi devenu la quatrième exportation agricole du pays, derrière le poisson, le tabac et l’alcool, mais devant le sucre et le café, qui sont pourtant des produits réputés.
« Tout le miel cubain est certifié bio. Il a un goût spécifique, très typique, qui en fait un produit très recherché. »

 

 

Cuba a produit plus de 7 200 tonnes de miel bio en 2014 pour une valeur d’environ 23,3 millions de dollars, selon les statistiques gouvernementales cités par l’ONUAA. La production du pays est encore minuscule comparée aux poids lourds mondiaux, comme la Chine, la Turquie, et l’Argentine. Mais avec une valeur bien supérieure au kilo, les voyants sont au vert pour les apiculteurs cubains.

Grâce a un environnement protégé, sans pesticides, l’apiculture cubaine est en plein essor.

Avec 80 ruches bondées d’abeilles, chacune produisant 45 kg de miel par an, Javier Alfonso pense que les exportations cubaines pourraient connaître une augmentation notable dans les années à venir. Il est pourtant partit de rien. Sa miellerie au bout d’un chemin de terre à San Antonio de los Banos – ville agricole à une heure de route de la Havane -, a été construite avec ses employés. 
« Nous ne sommes encore qu’une petite unité de production, mais nous pouvons nous agrandir, dit-il en regardant les rangées de ruches neuves, encore vides. » 
Comme les autres apiculteurs cubains, il vend son miel exclusivement au gouvernement, qui le paie selon le prix du marché mondial et prend alors la responsabilité de l’écoulement à l’étranger. 
La majorité de l’exportation de miel se fait vers Europe, précise-t-il. Il aimerait pouvoir emprunter de l’argent pour augmenter sa capacité de production, mais c’est difficile d’obtenir un crédit. Par nécessité, lui et son équipe doivent construire eux-même les infrastructures nécessaires au développement de l’exploitation. 
« C’est un environnement très naturel pour les abeilles, raconte Raul Vasquez, employé à la ferme. Le gouvernement n’est pas autorisé à nous vendre des produits chimiques. C’est peut-être pour ça que les abeilles ne meurent pas ici ». 
Bien qu’encore modeste, la production cubaine de miel bio cherche aujourd’hui à valoriser ses atouts sur le marché américain, alors que les autres pays producteurs sont en situation difficile.

Le contraste est saisissant entre la santé des abeilles de Cuba et celles d’Europe ou d’Amérique

Les apiculteurs, notamment américains et canadiens, se plaignent depuis longtemps de la menace que représente les pesticides pour les abeilles et pour l’ensemble de la filière apicole.
L’ US Environmental Protection Agency a rendu public une étude indiquant que l’usage d’insecticides sur les plants de coton et les arbres fruitiers avait un impact néfaste sur les populations d’abeilles. 
« Je ne pense pas qu’il y ait le moindre doute sur le fait que les populations d’abeilles aient baissé, aux États-Unis et en Europe, depuis la 2ème Guerre Mondiale » lance Norman Carreck, directeur scientifique de l’International Bee Research Association, à la Fondation Thomson Reuters. Selon lui, les changements climatiques, la diminution de l’espace disponible pour l’habitat des abeilles sauvages, les maladies et les pesticides sont responsables de ce déclin.


Pour Théodor Friedrich, la faible utilisation des pesticides sur l’île préserve l’apiculture cubaine des problèmes touchant les autres pays exportateurs de miel. Et la production de miel bio à Cuba pourrait devenir une source croissante de revenu pour les fermiers de l’île. 
« L’usage de pesticides en général est très limité, explique-t-il. Et c’est pour cela que Cuba n’a pas été victime des pertes qui ont affecté les populations d’abeilles dans les autres régions du monde. »

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