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[Duurzaamlijst] Cuba Leads the World in Organic Farming - Project Censored 2001

On 2 May 2001, at 1:29, Bill Howard wrote:

For more information, details and specifics about Cuba's stunning organic
urban gardening project, see our site devoted to Cuba's organic urban
gardens at www.blythe.org/ai/index.html

source - www.projectcensored.com

Cuba Leads the World in Organic Farming

Cuba has developed one of the most efficient organic agriculture systems in
the world, and organic farmers from other countries are visiting the island
to learn the methods.

Due to the U.S. embargo, and the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba was
unable to import chemicals or modern farming machines to uphold a high-tech
corporate farming culture. Cuba needed to find another way to feed its
people. The lost buying power for agricultural imports led to a general
diversification within farming on the island. Organic agriculture has become
key to feeding the nation's growing urban populations.

Cuba's new revolution is founded upon the development of an organic
agricultural system. Peter Rosset of the Institute for Food and Development
Policy states that this is "the largest conversion from conventional
agriculture to organic or semi-organic farming that the world has ever
known." Not only has organic farming been prosperous, but the migration of
small farms and gardens into densely populated urban areas has also played a
crucial role in feeding citizens. State food rations were not enough for
Cuban families, so farms began to spring up all over the country. Havana,
home to nearly 20 percent of Cuba's population, is now also home to more
than 8,000 officially recognized gardens, which are in turn cultivated by
more than 30,000 people and cover nearly 30 percent of the available land.

The growing number of gardens might seem to bring up the problem of space
and price of land. However, "the local governments allocate land, which is
handed over at no cost as long as it is used for cultivation," says S.
Chaplowe in the Newsletter of the World Sustainable Agriculture Association.
The removal of the "chemical crutch" has been the most important factor to
come out of the Soviet collapse, trade embargo, and subsequent organic
revolution. Though Cuba is organic by default because it has no means of
acquiring pesticides and herbicides, the quality and quantity of crop yields
have increased. This increase is occurring at a lower cost and with fewer
health and environmental side effects than ever. There are 173 established
'vermicompost' centers across Cuba, which produce 93,000 tons of natural
compost a year. The agricultural abundance that Cuba is beginning to
experience is disproving the myth that organic farming on a grand scale is
inefficient or impractical.

So far Cuba has been successful with its "transformation from conventional,
high input, mono-crop intensive agriculture" to a more diverse and localized
farming system that continues to grow. The country is rapidly moving away
from a monoculture of tobacco and sugar. It now needs much more diversity of
food crops as well as regular crop rotation and soil conservation efforts to
continue to properly nourish millions of Cuban citizens.

In June 2000, a group of Iowa farmers, professors, and students traveled to
Cuba to view that country's approach to sustainable agriculture. Rather than
relying on chemical fertilizers, Cuba relies on organic farming, using
compost and worms to fertilize soil. There are many differences between
farming in the United States and Cuba, but "in many ways they're ahead of
us," say Richard Wrage, of Boone County Iowa Extension Office. Lorna Michael
Butler, Chair of Iowa State University's sustainable agriculture department
said, "more students should study Cuba's growing system." (AP 6/5/00)

Note: While two national wire services covered this story, very few
newspapers actually picked it up. The Washington Post, (11/2/00 p. A29),
gave an anti-Castro spin to the story by focusing on community gardens as
necessary to off set food shortages and nutritional problems. The gardens
were depicted as contributing only "slightly" to food production in a
socialist agriculture system with problems of "inefficiency and lack of
individual incentives." Nothing was said about the successful transformation
of Cuban agriculture to a mostly organic system.

Project Censored's sources:

Third World Resurgence
Spring 2000 Issue #118/119
Title: Cuba's Organic Revolution
Author: Hugh Warwick

Sustainable Times
Fall 1999
Title: Farming With Fidel
Author: Alison Auld

August 2000
Title: Cuba's New Revolution
Authors: Stephen Zunes

Corporate media coverage: Gannett, 9/15/99, Dallas Morning News, 1/25/98 p.
35A, The Economist, 4/24/99, Lewiston Morning Tribune, p. 1A. Associated
Press 6/5/00

Faculty Evaluators: Tony White, Ph.D. and Albert Wahrhaftig, Ph.D.
Student researchers, Bruce Harden, Dana Balicki

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            Since 1985 - Information for the Rest of Us
                339 Lafayette St., New York, NY 10012
  http://www.blythe.org                  e-mail: nyt@blythe.org

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