According to a study published in 2006, organic urban agriculture programs produced over 1kg of vegetables per capita and day (tripling the FAO standard of 0.3kg!). These positive results emerged from a remarkable effort to organize alternative production methods within a time period of “scarcity”.
Before the fall of the Socialist block, Cuban experienced a “Green Revolution” from 1984 to 1991. With the Soviet’s Union support, this period was characterized by increased productivity by clearing virgin lands for new farmland, extensive and export oriented monocrop cultivation –mainly sugar cane-, intensive use of imported agricultural chemicals, use of hybrids seeds and improved varieties, machinery and oil. During this period, also called “The Soviet Agricultural revolution”, the increased mechanization and the overuse of artificial fertilizers had negative effects on soil’s health, compacting it and saturating its absorbent capacity. Many farmers moved to urban areas which degenerated traditional practices and ancestral knowledge. It was in short, a time of strong dependence of the Soviet Union’s assistance masked under the impression of agricultural success as conceived by “progress standards” at that time.
Looking forward to teach about the technicalities of agroecological practices at the Permaculture Design course in Portugal and Ibiza this september.
Flebes-Gonzales, J.M. et al. 2006. Cuban agricultural policy in the last 25 years from conventional to organic agriculture.