Organic Farming Elsewhere

The last four blog posts have all been about organic farming in Cuba. However, organic farming is practiced all around the globe. This blog post will explain the places around the globe where organic farming is practiced and is just as popular as organic farming in Cuba.

In a 2012 status report, it states that Wisconsin has seen an increase in organic farming by 157 percent from 2002 to 2007. Globally, 87 million acres were farmed under organic management in 2008, representing almost 1.4 million producers in 154 countries. The 2008 USDA Organic Agriculture Census ranks Wisconsin second in total number of organic farms; The census reports 2,714 organic farms in California, which is the top- ranked state, and 1,222 organic farms in Wisconsin. Wisconsin is ranked in the top five for many categories like organic hogs and pigs, organic vegetables and melons, Wisconsin also leads the nation in the number of organic dairy and beef farms with a total of 479 dairy farms and and 109 beef farms. Wisconsin ranks first in the number of farms raising several organic field crops including barley for grain or seed; corn for grain or seed; corn for silage or greenchop; hay; haylage, other silage and greenchop; oats for grain or seed; rye for grain or seed; and winter wheat for grain or seed.

The next area that has an expansion of organic farming is Australia. The earliest history of organic farming in Australia was 1944, says John Paull, who wrote the Journal of Organic Systems. Australia is a leading supplier of sustainable and organic fertilizers, and soil and crop health products. In 1999, there was an increase of popularity of Organic farming and three organic organizations were created: BFA, BDAA and NASAA. BDAA stated that it “trains farmers in Bio-dynamic practices”, and that there are three grades of certification; Grades A and B are produced without “artificial fertilizers or synthetic chemicals”, while for Grade C produce, “a minimum of chemical sprays have been applied.” NASAA stated that it promotes “sustainable agriculture”, and that its “systems exclude or severely restrict the use of synthetic fertilizers and pesticides.” BFA uses the term “regenerative farming” (and neither of “sustainable” nor “organic”), however it states unequivocally that: “Artificial fertilizers, chemically synthesized weedicides, pesticides, fungicides, fumigants and growth promotants are not tolerated” (AQIS 1989).

Along with Australia, India also has a prominent organic farming system in place. The Organic Farming Association of India (OFAI) was set up by the seniormost members of India’s organic farming community in the year 2002. The association was primarily set up to promote organic farming, lobby with government agencies and departments to pay more attention to sustainable agriculture, and assist farmers using chemicals and pesticides to convert successfully to organic farming methods. Similar to Cuba it India had to make the switch to organic farming: During the 1950s and 1960s, the ever-increasing population of India, along with several natural calamities, led to a severe food scarcity in the country. As a result, the government was forced to import food grains from foreign countries. To increase food security, the government had to drastically increase food production in India. The Green Revolution (under the leadership of M. S. Swaminathan) became the government’s most important program in the 1960s. Several hectares of land were brought under cultivation. Hybrid seeds were introduced. Natural and organic fertilizers were replaced by chemical fertilizers and locally made pesticides were replaced by chemical pesticides. Large chemical factories such as the Rashtriya Chemical Fertilizers were established. (Organic Farming in India | Fun Facts).

It is interesting to see how many of these counties/places have practiced organic farming for many years and like Cuba needed to make the switch in order to keep their livelihood.

Works Cited

AQIS, 1989, The Case for a National Approach to Certification of Organically Grown Products, Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service, Department of Primary Industries and Energy, Canberra, ACT, November.

Deller, S. and D. Williams. “Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin by the Numbers.” 2012 Status Report: 2009.

“Organisation – Organic Farming Association of India.” Organic Farming Association of India: 2016.

“Organic Farming in India | Fun Facts.” 2016.

Paull, John. “Journal of Organic Systems.” Vol. 3 No. 2: 2008.


Cuba: Not Only Good Practice in Urban Farming, but also Renewable Energy

In an article “La Revolucion Energetica: Cuba’a Energy Revolution” it explains that just a few years ago Cuba’s energy situation was desolate. “The country had 11 large, and quite inefficient, thermoelectric plants generating electricity for the entire island. Most of the plants were 25 years old and only functioning 60% of the time.” There were frequent blackouts, especially during peak demand periods. There was also a high percentage of transmission losses along the electrical distribution grid. To add to the energy crisis, most Cuban households had inefficient appliances, 75% of the population was cooking with kerosene, and the residential electrical rates did not encourage conservation. In 2004 the eastern side of Cuba was hit by two hurricanes in a short period of time, affecting transmission lines and leaving one million people without electricity for ten days. All of this in the face of the overarching drivers of peak oil and climate change, made Cubans realise they had to make energy more of a priority. Thus, in 2006, began what Cubans call La Revolución Energética – the Energy Revolution. The rest of this blog explains the transition to renewable energy and what Cuba hopes for in the future.

Cuba by 2030 would like to want to increase its supply of renewable energy by 24% through an investment of 3.5 billion, says “Solar Energy Outlook in Cuba.” In order to reduce its dependence on fossil fuel imports, Cuba has instituted a wide-reaching energy efficiency program in 2006, which has overseen various energy saving initiatives for households, including the replacement of old and inefficient domestic appliances. Another aspect the government is changing is creating a network of energy generation with smaller power plants in order to reduce the potential for damages and blackouts that were previously the result of hurricanes affecting a more centralized network.

In the Article, “Cuba Wants Clean Energy, Can the U.S deliver?” says that Cuba is making the shift and plans to clean up part of its fuel supply, moving from crude oil to profolio wind, sun and sugar cane. Cuba, the same population size of Ohio, plans to invest 3.5 billion into renewable energy. The  government of Cuba envisions a chain of wind farms along the island’s north shore, numerous “bioelectric” stations using everything from sugar cane leftovers to pig poop, and solar installations of every size. One speaker said Cuba can become an international supplier of renewable energy made from wind. Cuba is also developing their own industry in renewable energy: Outside the city of Cienfuegos, the government has built a manufacturing plant that has produced 14,000 photovoltaic solar panels. It has also constructed a 4.5-megawatt solar plant near the U.S. naval base at Guantanamo, according to José R. Oro, a former official with the Cuban industries ministry. The island wants 13 wind parks along the long north shore to produce 633 MW of wind, 19 bioelectric stations to produce 755 MW of “bioelectric” power and 700 MW of solar, Barreiro said.

In an article “Using the Sun’s Energy” it seems as though the Cubans want tot bring the renewable energy to agriculture techniques. They plan to put panels around the farms and around the territory, which will set to provide the first megawatts (MW) from the solar farm which has been under construction for the past few months in Vueltabajo are already installed and in the final preparation phase before their integration into the Cuban National Electric System (SEN). Electricity generated through the 4,000 already installed solar panels will allow for savings of over 300 tons of fuel per year and avoid the emission of large quantities of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases into the atmosphere.

For solar energy to have a long-term impact on Cuba’s energy demand and production, projects must expand beyond off-grid usage. The focus should shift toward urban applications of solar systems and the further development of solar-powered domestic appliances. Particularly the latter category offers Cuba a lot of potential to develop into a global actor, as the international demand for high-quality, affordable solar appliances is strong.

Works Cited

Ferris, David. “Cuba Wants Clean Energy, Can the U.S. Deliver?” EnergyWire: June, 2015.

Kolopic, Sasha. “Solar Energy Outlook in Cuba.” Havana Times: February 2016.

“La Revolucion Energetica: Cuba’s Energy Revolution.” Renewable Energy April 2009.

Rivas, Ronaldo. “Using the Sun’s Energy.” Gramma Internacional: December 2014.

Organic Farming: How to Bring Organic Farming to America

One question that is necessary to answer is how can organic farming benefit America? Reading Food and Agriculture Organizations Of United Nations, “Organic Agriculture: What Are the Benefits” explains organic agriculture takes a proactive approach as opposed to waiting for destruction or treating problems after they occur. In many agricultural areas in the US, pollution with groundwater courses with synthetic fertilizers and pesticides is a major problem, however if there was a switch to organic farming, synthetic fertilizers are not allowed, but instead organic fertilizers (manure) enhancing the soil and water infiltration. In terms of global warming and climate change, organic agriculture contributes to mitigating the greenhouse effect and global warming through its ability to sequester carbon in the soil. Many management practices used by organic agriculture increase the return of carbon to the soil, raising productivity and favouring carbon storage. Organic farming also positively effects biodiversity, eliminates GMOs, and encourages interactions within the agro-ecosystem that are vital for both agricultural production and nature conservation. In order to raise awareness

Cuba’s transition into organic farming was a necessity. However, it has proven success in their homeland and has allured other countries like the United States. In an interview with Judy Woodruf, Jeffery Brown, and Miguel Salcines, Miguel Salcines is the founder for Vivero Alamar Farm, which produces and supplies food for about 80,000 residents around the community. This is one of the 10,000 urban organic farms in Cuba that has received attention from Americans. Miguel says that his farm is almost like a school. People from all around the world come to this farm just to understand their processes and about urban farming.

However, a difference between Cuba and America is that Cuba was not worried about their carbon foot print or the negative externalities of chemical fertilizers and pesticides, but that there were none of those resources anymore. Cuba stopped using the chemicals because there were no more chemicals. The idea did not come from idealism, which is what America is facing, but rather Orlando Lugo Fonte, President of Cuba’s National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), explains, “necessity gave birth to a new consciousness” (Craftsmanship Magazine).  Jason Reis, who owns an Organic Farm in Brooklyn, New York says when he looks at the organic farming in Cuba he sees a great example of permaculture and organic farming practices: interplanting, natural insecticides, marigolds to attract pollinators. He says and its not a “it’s not a monoculture. It’s not a field full of corn or soy like we see in the U.S.”

In another interview, Fernando Fues Jr. talks about his own local farm and the advantages of organic Farming. With organic agriculture, with agroecology, “we are able to produce healthy food in order to grow healthy people in the cities and in the whole country. And when we have this kind of system, then we can also assure that we have enough labor for the people in the countryside and better expectation for them to live better from their work.” The organic farming helps not only the livelihood but the work force. With the switch, while scaling back pesticides anywhere from 55-85 percent across a range of crops, peasant farmers produced 85 percent more tubers, 83 percent more vegetables, and 351 percent more beans. This is not just corn or soy like mentioned before as seen in US, there is a variety of agriculture, which is super beneficial to the natural world.

Despite these impressive statistics, and the success in Latin America countries, there is no agroecology movement in the US. These food revolutions are connected to the social movements of La Via Campensia. Even in Berkley California, where there is an increase of organic and sustainable farming and development, “they take the ecological principles, but strip it of its true social importance” says Miguel Altieri, UC Berkeley professor of agroecology. The social context has as much to do with democratizing food systems as with farming techniques. To change this and widened organic and sustainable farming in the US, two things need to happen:  access to land (particularly for younger farmers), and public investment in small-scale sustainable farming. In the U.S., the bulk of US farm subsidies benefit large-scale industrial farms; in Brazil, by comparison, national agricultural law requires the government to purchase 30 percent of small farms’ harvests, Altieri explains. “Can you imagine if that happened here?” Those laws happened because social movements brought pressure.

We have two paradigms that are clashing,” says Altieri, “the industrial model and the ecological one. Humanity has to make up its mind which way we want to go. The question for the US is, do we wait for the agricultural system to collapse before we make a change?”

Works Cited

Cook, Christopher. “Cuba’s Harvest of Surprises.” Craftmanships Magazine: January 15 2015.

“Organic Farming Flourishes In Cuba, But Can It Survive Entry Of U.S. Agribusiness?” Democracy Now Newspaper: June 2 2015.

“Organic Agriculture: What are the environmental benefits of organic agriculture?” Food and Agriculture Organizations of United Nations.

“What Can Cuba Teach America About Organic Farming?” PBS NewsHour: June 19 2015.

Blog Post 1: The Transition to Organic Farming In Cuba

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.

Works Cited

Cuba;s Organic Farmers Aim for Rich Soil. Cuba Journal: December 2015. Print.

The Food Crisis in Cuba. Oxfarmamerica.

Organic Agriculture In Cuba. United Nations Environment Programme – Environment for Development.

“Voice of Transition – Clip – Urban Agriculture in Cuba.” Film.



I am student interested in agricultural advances in Cuba. First, just to get to a feel for the agriculture in Cuba, I used the United Nations Environment Programme, article titled “Organic Agriculture in Cuba” which explains the policy and reasons why Cuba switched to organic agriculture recently. Then while I was researching I found an organization that is an example of a farm in Cuba, “Alamar | FARM” to get a further understanding of their business and first hand experiences. Then using Cuba’s newspaper, Gramma Internacional,  I found an article explaining their innovative ideas for furthering their success in farming, Using The Sun’s Energy. My main focus for these blogs is to see how Cuba can help further America’s success and abundance in organic farming. With that being said, I found an interview, “What Cuba can teach America about Organic Farming, ” with Jeffery Brown, where he talks about the leading industry in Organic farming, and how it can teach America about Urban Farming.”

Using these four sources, I will explore Cuba’s innovations with sustainable farming and how Cuba’s policy can influence America to make a similar transition. These blogposts will help the reader understand a widely beneficial development at a local scale and how local transitions can turn into a wide scale global development transition.