Farming in Cuba
the previous 30 years, Cuba’s sugar and other products had been exported
at extremely favourable prices to the communist partners, while the island’s
basic inputs for its highly mechanised agriculture - oil, machinery, fertilisers
and pesticides - arrived at low prices. Most of Cuba’s food also came
from the U.R.S.S.
While this commercial relationship was in place, the consequences of the US-imposed
embargo were not so severely felt. But after 1989 the fate of the Cuban Revolution
became highly uncertain.
The once healthy and educated population became hungry. To overcome starvation
the population, mostly in urban centres, cleared up unused plots in the cities
and grew their own food.
Over 15 years later, in 2006 Cuba’s urban farming produced 4.2 million
tons of food, employing 354,000 people. It provided 300 grams of vegetables
per citizen per day.
It also contributed to the establishment of a network of 1,270 points of sale
of agricultural products and 932 agricultural markets. It is undoubtedly a successful
case of ingenuity in times of struggle.
Today there is much talk in the industrialised world about fundamental issues
to the preservation of mankind like global warming, sustainability, clear energy
production, bio-fuels, genetically modified agriculture, fair trade, permaculture
or organic cultivation.
The private sector, governmental agencies, the academic and scientific circles,
environmentalists, politicians, are all engaged in discussing the present condition
of our planet as well as future scenarios. In this discussion, the Cuban case
– achieving self-sufficiency in vegetable production on an urban environment
leaving behind a highly mechanised model – points to an encouraging direction,
as controversial as anything else in that tropical island, through which men
take advantage of pure nature to produce healthy food, provide employment, care
for the community and protect the environment.
With the collapse of the Soviet Bloc in 1989 a dark period
in Cuba’s history began, called by Fidel Castro the “Special Period”.