Following the 1959 revolution, the USSR was willing to pay Cuba enormous monies for most of Cuba’s sugarcane and citrus crop, with further incentives given such as petrol to work the land, and fertilizers/ pesticides to increase the amount of crops. To meet this demand, Cuba’s farms were enlarged and nationalized.
But once the Soviet Union collapsed, Cuba was not prepared to adequately feed its people. In fact, in the following years, a 20 pound loss per adult was considered average.
Cuban farmers then had no choice but to revert to the practices of their parents, an era when chemicals or artificial methods were not available.
Enter the organoponics currently seen in Cuba where a lack of petrol forced the use of oxen; a lack of pesticide forced the use of marigold, thyme and basil; and a lack of fertilizers forced the use of natural products to attract insects needed in the farming process.
Where there used to be large state run productions of sugarcane, farmers were now given small plots to cultivate, encouraged to do crop rotation, use multi-crop seeding, and to turn to green manure. Personal gardens became popular. The concept of farm to table was now do-able.
Today, Cuba preserves its natural resources, practices recycling, uses limited artificial entities, and is leaving a minimal footprint– a fact just applauded by the Living Planet Report who called Cuba the most sustainable country on the planet.
At the same time, crop production needs to be increased so that more people can get more food. The question is: how can this goal be met while staying natural and organic?