People We Love :: Humberto Ríos Labrada

Helping farmers restore biodiversity in Cuba

Cuba lost more than its key trading partner when the Soviet Union fell in 1991. The island nation was also cut off from most of the oil and pesticide fueling its sugar industry, and its agricultural system collapsed.

Humberto Ríos Labrada, then a graduate student, noticed individual farmers experimenting with seed diversity on their own plots of land. To help expand the movement and promote self-sufficiency, Ríos set off to build farming cooperatives.

Ríos has since worked with other young scientists to connect farmers with researchers, professors, and biodiversity experts. His team established learning centers and “seed fairs” around the island, now involving a network of 50,000 farmers.

Winner of a 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize, Rios has watched seed fairs become celebrated events, where community members gather with farmers to exchange local products and socialize.

Kelly-Shea.jpgKelly Shea wrote this article for , the Fall 2010 issue of YES! Magazine. Kelly is an editorial intern for YES! Magazine. Interested?
  • from our Fall 2010 issue,