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.