Álvaro Reynoso Valdés

He was born in Alquízar (current town of the same name, belonging to the province of Havana), Cuba, on November 4, 1829. Chemist Physiologist, Agronomist and Industrial Technologist. His father and his great uncle, Antonio Reynoso Trujillo and Álvaro José Reynoso, coffee farmers with loads of Lieutenant and Captain Pedáneo, respectively, in an Alquízar party, as a great interest in empirical agronomic and botanical experimentation. Antonio made observations about the cultivation of corn and, especially, about coffee.

He also collaborated closely with Ramón de la Sagra in the collection of plants, between 1831 and 1835, when he occupied the direction of the Botanical Garden of Havana and the Agronomic Institution. According to the merits reached their cooperation, he received the title of Correspondent of the Botanical Garden in 1832. For his part, Álvaro José planted in 1826 a remarkable amount of Castaño trees of Malabar, in the lands of one of his coffee plantations.

He received his doctorate in Sciences from the University of Paris (1856), then in the chemical studies begun in 1848 with Edouard Robin, and in the biochemistry laboratory of Theofile Jules Pelouze (former student of the German Justus von Liebig, initiator of Agrochemicals) and at the Paris Acclimatization Garden, which was run by Isidore Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire. In Cuba he had been a favorite student of the Spanish José Luis Casaseca, in the Chair of Chemistry of the College of San Cristóbal (1844-1845).

He is considered "Father of the Cuban Scientific Agriculture". As a student of science and medicine in France, fundamental research, as part of the organization of the final theme for his doctoral thesis in science, and also in human physiological chemistry, the answers between 1849 and 1856, in prestigious scientific journals of that nation European His orientation toward physiological chemistry can be seen in his study on diabetes mellitus, in which time has been improved for the time; A work that can be seen in his work on the action of the priest, poison used by the South American Indians.

The influence of the teachings in Chemistry and Botany of San Juan de Hilaire, as well as in the nationalistic networks of José Antonio Saco and Conde de Pozos Dulces, favorable to an agriculture in Cuba, the professional vocation of Reynoso was inclined towards the application of chemistry in the study of plants and soil. The scientific part of the history of science, science and science in Cuba in 1858, the biological theories about the immutability or not in the species, those that faced George Cuvier and Etienne Geoffroy Saint-Hilaire, in the thirties.

We also had the opportunity to learn about the processes of institutionalization of teaching and agricultural research that took place in France and Germany and in the study, the existing plans in Spain, then Colonial Metropolis of Cuba. From his stay in Madrid, came the interest in the artificial breeding of fish in freshwater. However, in 1859 and 1864, when Casaseca was replaced in the direction of the Institute of Chemical Research of Havana.

Despite the useful resources, the institutional context was more favorable to agricultural research work, the support received from some private benefactors, including the sacrifice of Reynoso's own personal fortune. In this area he conceived in 1862 an integral system of agrotechnical measures, to guarantee the intensive cultivation of sugar cane, based on research on the physical and chemical conditions of the soils and the plant itself, in the selection of new varieties, in The use of fertilizers and in irrigation. With this system we intend to reduce the areas of cane cultivation, the effects of promoting agricultural diversification and the gradual elimination of slavery.

In addition to its diffusion in various languages, the measures recommended by Reynoso were successfully applied in Java (then a colony of the Netherlands, in the part of the Republic of Indonesia), while in Cuba the conditions are not yet created for its practical introduction. He was the first to efficiently apply in Cuba the theories of Liebig, known as Minimum and Restitution, aimed at establishing the necessary nutritional balance of plants through the use of fertilizers. He proposed in 1864 an innovative technology in industrial sugar production that was available to farmers with fewer resources. In that way, we hoped to satisfy the hope of that sector.
Sustained his discovery at the laboratory level, Reynoso received the support of a group of farmers to achieve in France, on an industrial scale, the obtaining of sugar in the cold by freezing the juice of the cane. Product of the failure of his invention (its merits and defects are still unknown), and the definitive dissolution of the Institute in 1869, he stayed 19 years in the French capital, where he devoted himself to various application studies such as the conservation of meat with compressed air, pharmaceutical preparations of elixir and liquors, and those related to the making of a new machine to extract juice from the cane.

Shortly after his return to Cuba in 1883, he improvised an experimental field in the backyard of his house in the Cerro neighborhood, due to the lack of government support to establish the agronomic station projected by him in that year. He spent the last years of his life doing research in this field of experimentation, on various crops such as: sugar cane, coffee, cocoa, cotton, and tobacco, among others, whose results were disclosed in the scientific section attended by him in the Diary of the Navy.

He rejected the appointment of Professor of Organic Chemistry of the Faculty of Sciences, of the Central University of Madrid, to assume, in 1858, the Special Chair of Applied Chemistry to Agriculture and Botany, of the General Preparatory School of Havana. His teaching work was not systematic due to his preferences for research.

It turned the Institute of Chemical Research into one of the first agronomic stations in the world, based on the model of an existing institution in Germany since 1851. For this purpose, it had the Chemistry laboratory that it brought from France, and the experimentation field provided by the Count. of Fernandina, in one of its coffee plantations in Pinar del Río. As part of the research and advisory functions, he made scientific excursions to various agricultural and sugar regions of the country, between the years 1863-1864 and 1884-1885. His performance as a disseminator is appreciated in the scientific writing of the Diario de la Marina (1858-1864 and 1883-1888), as well as the Annals and Memoirs of the Development Board and the Economic Society of Friends of the Country (1859-1865). ).

Between 1859 and 1864 the scientific activity of Reynoso was associated to the ideological precepts of the Count of Pozos Dulces and José Antonio Saco, corresponding to the reformist political current, which was reflected in some of his most important works (among them his valuable Essay on the cultivation of sugar cane), with prologues written by Pozos Dulces, and the proposal he made in 1861 for Saco to be elected as a Member of Merit of the Royal Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Havana. His own reception within the aforementioned Academy, as well as that of the Economic Society, responded to the combination of his ideological affiliation and his unquestionable professional quality.

From 1883 until his death, Reynoso maintained a generally ambiguous position or political retreat, disappointed by the impossibility of fully performing as a research professional, given the lack of financial support from state authorities and private initiative . During those years, he suffered the professional competence of agronomists trained in Spain, or elsewhere in Europe, and the legal provisions that gave the former preference in the performance of scientific activity, example of which were the ill-fated project of experimental agronomic station, presented by him to the Government in 1883, and his invalidation to work in a state station for the fact of not being an agronomist.

Obtained monetary prize in 1854, in the Medicine and Surgery contest of the Academy of Science of Paris, with a study on the presence of blood in the urine of people subjected to the inhalation of anesthetic drugs. He was Corresponding Member of Academies of Foreign Sciences, as of the Exact, Physical and Natural Sciences of Madrid (1857) and of those of Bavaria and Gottinga (1865), besides having been Honorary Member of the Imperial Bahian Institute of Agriculture of Brazil ( 1877).

In Cuba he was a Number Partner of the Royal Economic Society of Friends of the Country (1858), Founding Academician (1861) and of Merit (1864) of the Royal Academy of Medical, Physical and Natural Sciences of Havana, Honorary Member of the Círculo de Hacendados (1879), and Senior Minister of Agriculture of the Government (1883), which appointed him to form part of the Agricultural Commission created with a view to establishing a state agriculture school (1883-1884).

He died in Havana on August 11, 1888.