Has Cuba's organic Food System actually been "Saved" by 54 years of embargo from USA?
With Obama announcing new relations with Cuba, here's an interesting take from two local folks here in Western Colorado Paonia, CO, who recently visited Cuba.
"The Cuban experiment made a radical shift in 1989 when the Soviet sugar daddy collapsed, which cut off the subsidies it had enjoyed as a cold war puppet. Largely due to political pressure from Cuban-Americans in Florida, a strict trade embargo by the United States remained in place—and is still in effect today. Unable to afford the fuel, fertilizers and pesticides that had made industrial agriculture possible, Cuba was forced to go organic almost overnight. The dramatic decline in crop production between 1990 and 1994 was known as “the Special Period,” during which the average Cuban lost 20 pounds!
When it was recognized that industrial farming was no longer possible, the peasants were granted more control of over the land. With the help of the country’s agronomists, plant breeders, soil scientists, and hydrologists (Cuba has 2 percent of Latin America’s population but 11 percent of its scientists), farmers adopted a system known as Agro-ecology. Agro-ecology is a method that mimics natural systems to increase soil fertility and deal with pests. The techniques will be familiar to many of our readers: nitrogen-fixing beans replace the use of inorganic fertilizer; flowers are used to attract beneficial insects to manage pests; weeds are crowded out with more intensive planting. Cuba has largely recovered from those harsh times; it now only needs to import 16% of its food, whereas in the Soviet heyday it imported 70%. So although U.S. policies have caused severe economic hardships, one can’t help but be impressed with how the nation has pulled together."