Interesting and valuable Democracy Now glimpse from last June into Cuba’s radical launch into organic farming following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s. Cuba has a lot of experience under their belt which will be a helpful teacher to the rest of us. Jim
“‘…there is a criticism about organic agriculture, which is not able to feed the world. And we think it’s the opposite. We can take advantage of the knowledge already accumulated for hundreds of years of farmers and the knowledge from science. We manage the system in a way that doesn’t need the use of pesticides’…
“… part of what happened in Cuba was that in the mid-’80s Cuba had a highly mechanized and industrialized agriculture system. They had more tractors per capita than any country in Latin America, and they were investing a lot of money into national food production. But nonetheless, they were still importing 57 percent of the calories eaten on the island from the Soviet Union and Soviet bloc countries. So, when the Soviet Union fell apart, Cuba lost those imports immediately, within a two-, three-year period, along with a 34, 35 percent contraction of their GDP. It launched Cuba into a major economic crisis, and that was a food and agriculture crisis, as well, in a central way, because of the loss of the direct food imports and also the loss of the many other imports into the agriculture sector upon which national food production had become dependent—again, pesticides, fertilizers, petroleum, tractor spare parts, spare parts for other kind of agriculture machinery. So, they were faced with the daunting task of needing to greatly increase food production with a fraction of the resources available.
“Immediately, city residents—in particular, Havana has two million of the 11 million people on the island, live in Havana, largest city in the Caribbean—Havana residents started going out and growing food on empty lots that were close to their homes, using any seeds they could find, with any tools that were available, and literally on any space that was near their homes, including some in their homes—patios, balconies, rooftops.”