Organic agriculture in Cuba: a report on an investigation

By Cliff DuRand

Cuban music culture is widely appreciated. But so too Cuba’s agriculture is world renowned for its conversion to sustainable organic practices. Eight sanmigulenses have just returned from a ten-day investigation of the island’s organic agriculture. On March 12 they will give a public report on what they learned.

Panel enter for Global Justice and Vía Orgánica present:
“Organic Agriculture in Cuba: A Report on an Investigation”
Tue, Mar 12, 2pm
El Sindicato
Recreo 4
60 pesos

Cuba was forced to abandon its large scale industrial farming when it lost access to fertilizers and pesticides, oil, machinery and other imports due to the collapse of its trade with the former Soviet bloc. The country had to relearn how to plow with oxen, how to fight pests naturally, and how to enrich soil poisoned by years of over-reliance on oil-based pesticides and gas-based fertilizers and degraded by mechanized cultivation. Cubans combined time-tested traditional methods of older campesinos with cutting edge techniques developed by its scientists. It was the largest conversion to organic farming ever attempted anywhere.

The result is sustainable agricultural practices that are unique in their widespread use. In 2006, a World Wildlife Fund study concluded Cuba is the only country in the world with both a high UN Human Development Index — a composite ranking based on quality of life indices and purchasing power — and a relatively small “ecological footprint,” a measure of the per person use of land and resources. Cuba treads lightly on the Earth.

Those who went to Cuba from San Miguel de Allende in February visited farms and urban gardens and ecological reserves, talked with farmers and agronomists and officials, and learned about cooperatives as well as about Cuban dance. Their trip was sponsored by the Center for Global Justice and Via Organica. On the Cuban side it was hosted by the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Center, which organized the itinerary. A similar trip is being planned in the future. Come to the Sindicato this Tuesday to hear what was learned on this first trip into the future of agriculture.


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