by Will Raap
For several years I have been hearing about another revolution in Cuba. This time it involved farming and the food system. For much of the 1990s, small organic farms were providing increasing amounts of Cuba’s food. They were responding to the economic emergency of 1989–90 when the Soviet bloc began collapsing and Cuba lost its main source of foreign exchange and half of the food its 11 million citizens relied on.
During the early 1990s imports of agricultural machinery, fertilizer, pesticides and other needed inputs for Cuba’s industrialized agricultural system (producing mostly sugar for export) stopped abruptly. Cuban agriculture had to change or the people would starve. And change needed to happen fast.
Fertilizers, pesticides, equipment and other farm inputs needed to come from local sources and harvests had to feed Cubans, not sweeten desserts in East Germany. It was like corporate farms in California or Iowa suddenly having to switch from chemically dependent monocultures feeding Manhattan to compost-fed, diversified crops feeding Fresno or Dubuque. Then, in 1999, I read an article in The New Internationalist about a surprising additional innovation in this latest Cuban revolution: Organiponico.
Cuban agriculture had to change or the people would starve.
S/R 38: Cuba’s Second Revolution (Will Raap)