In this blog post, I will discuss the transition to Organic farming Cuba had to make in order to save their economy and livelihood.
In the early 1900s, Cuba had a promising and destructive food crisis. Mamonal, a village located in the once very so fertile land of Cuba was once the king of tomatoes and sugar. Reynoldo Garcia even said one the crisis hit there was no point of even trying to cultivate. There was no fertilizer, no tractors, no seeds, and no energy for irrigation. In 1994, the tomato yield, as well many other crops were negligible. Without tomatoes, thousands of seasonal workers lost their employment. Cuba lost 80 percent of their import and export markets. From 8 billion dollar to practically 1.7 billion in a spam of basically overnight. Within the crisis food was affected as well as the well being of Cuba in general. Buses stopped running, generators stopped producing energy, and factories became as quiet as graveyards. Some how getting food was the main priority of many, if not all Cubans on a day to day basis. Cubas transition to organic farming was a necessary response to the food crisis. The Cuban government resounded to the crisis by closing the majority of state farms. 80 percent of farms in Cuba prior to the food crisis were owned by the state and were then re established to worker-owned enterprises.
In order for the organic farming to popularize, the government put incentives to organic farming. Any food produced in surplus would be sold for free at markets. This created n incentive for farmers to switch to the organic technologies, such as, earthworms, biofertilizers, composting and integration of grazing animals. Public policies also encouraged the transformation to organic farming. National Programme of Urban Agriculture encourages farmers to produce diverse, healthy and fresh products. Many vacant lots were turned into small farms and grazing areas for animals. In this transition, the new organic farming system created 350,000 new well-paying jobs, 4 millions tons of fruits and vegetables, and a city with 2.2 million suitability and self sufficient livelihood.
In a video “Voices of Transition” the professor speaking mentions how the West can learn a lot from the organic farming transition. He mentioned how the community became more involved, decreasing hostility and increasing cooperation. Even if there is extra products by the end of the day by the people who sell it, none of it goes to waste. They give the extra products to nurseries, schools, or hospitals.
Cuban farmer-entreupernour was quoted in “Cuba Journal” article Cuba’s Organic Farmers Aim for Rich Soil says organic farming is having an impact and creating opportunity in Cuba. According to a report in Granma, a garbage dump located on the shore of a section of Cuba was actually turned into a viable farming project, which now provides at least 120 different seedlings.
Not only did the transition create jobs and fix a crisis in a short term, the lack of pesticides for agricultural production is likely to have positive long term impact on Cuba’s well being, as pesticides and other artificial farming techniques can have negative effects on health. It’s not only a question of food, but to have healthier food as well.
Cuba;s Organic Farmers Aim for Rich Soil. Cuba Journal: December 2015. http://cubajournal.co/cubas-organic-farmers-aim-for-rich-soil/. Print.
The Food Crisis in Cuba. Oxfarmamerica. http://www.oxfamamerica.org/static/oa4/OA-CubaGoingAgainstGrain_FoodCrisis.pdf
Organic Agriculture In Cuba. United Nations Environment Programme – Environment for Development. http://www.unep.org/greeneconomy/SuccessStories/OrganicAgricultureinCuba/tabid/29890/Default.aspx
“Voice of Transition – Clip – Urban Agriculture in Cuba.” https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BE-wPh5Q0iY. Film.