The Organic Farming Movement in Cuba

Report
The Organic Farming Movement
in Cuba
Fernando Funes
Pre-Revolution Land Distribution
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9.4% of the land-holders owned 73.3% of the
land
85% of the farmers rented their land
More than 4 million hectares left uncultivated
on large estates
200,000 landless families
Over half of the best agricultural lands lay in
the hands of foreign owners
Agriculture During the Revolutionary
Period
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Land was distributed to more than 200,000
peasant families
70 % of the latifundio lands were passed
over to the state control
Early days—emphasis in agricultural
diversification (nature-friendly)
…but period tendencies pushed
toward conventional agriculture
Objectives of Revolutionary
Agriculture
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To meet the food requirements of the
population
To generate export earnings
To provide raw materials for industry
To eradicate poverty and unsanitary
conditions of the countryside
Conventional Agricultural Problems
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Over-specialization, monocropping, and
excessive intensification
Excessive dependence on external inputs
Large-scale deforestation
Salinization, erosion, compaction, and
fertility loss of soils
Unsustainable intensive factory farming
systems of cattle, poultry, and pig
production
Heavy rural-urban migration
“Special Period” in Cuba
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1989—Acute crisis began suddenly with the collapse of
the European socialist countries and the disintegration
of the Soviet Union
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Prior to 1989—more than 85% of Cuban trade was with
European socialist countries
--Little more than 10% with capitalist countries

Cuba imported two-thirds of its food stuffs, almost all of
its fuel and 80% of its machinery and spare parts from
socialist countries
Effects of the Crisis
Purchasing capacity was reduced to 40
percent
 Fuel importation reduced to a third
 Fertilizers reduced to 25 percent
 Pesticides to 40 percent
 Animal feed concentrates to 30 percent
**All agriculture seriously affected

Objective of Special Period Agr. Policy
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To shift to a low external input form of
agriculture, while at the same time boosting
production
Pillars for Transformation
Scientific & educational development
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Specialized institutions
Specialized legislation
Research
Teaching
Extension
Productive practice
Structural Reorganization
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Decentralization of the state farm sector through new
organizational forms and production structures
Land distribution to encourage production of different
crops in various regions of the country
Reduction of specialization in agricultural production
Biological pest controls and biofertilizers
Renewed use of animal traction
gardening movements—urban,family, and community
Farmers’ markets under “supply and demand” conditions
Organic Farming
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1970’s and 1980’s—Cuban scientists and farmers started
searching for alternatives to high input agriculture
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Many traditional practices were remembered
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“agroecological Lighthouses”—farms where agroecological
concepts are applied and which promote sustainable production
systems in different regions
*aimed at the production and marketing of organic
products
*Collaborates with other organizations to create
education, research, and development programs on
sustainable agriculture
Why Cuba won the “Alternative Nobel Prize”
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Organic Fertilization and Soil Conservation (manure,
sugarcane filter-cake mud…)
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Ecological Management of Pests, Diseases & weeds
(Biological control by using predators, insect pathogens,
and disease antagonists)
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Crop rotation and polyculture
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Legume-based livestock systems, silvo-pastoral
systems, and integrated crop-livestock systems
Why Cuba won the “Alternative Nobel Prize”
•Ecological Soil Management
•Successful Organic Farming Experience
•Popularization of small rice production
•Medicinal plants
•Incipient organic development programs
•Organic fruit production
•Organic coffee and cocoa
Methodology
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Universities
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Farmer to farmer
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The Ministry of Science, Technology, and Environment has
given priority in recent years to research in sustainable
agriculture
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Does not represent a change of technological models, but of
the very way in which we conceive of agriculture
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Considers the farmer as a cultural and not just productive unit
Organics as an Alternative
“Its principles run counter to the vicious
globalization promoted by neo-liberalism,
and are more in favor of a socially just
and solidarious, more human
globalization, without dependency on
transformation corporations and in favor
of self-sufficiency.”
Favorable Conditions
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Strong demand for agricultural products
Plenty of qualified personnel linked to agricultural activities
Population experienced in community work
Administrative and social structures that support food selfsufficiency
Official mass media willing to sponsor publicity campaigns for
the peoples’ benefit
Research results that are compatible with the new model
The return of many people to the countryside in recent years
Organizations dedicated to the creation of an agroecological
culture

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