The World Bank has reported that Cuba is leading nearly every other developing nation in human development performance. Senior Bank officials have even suggested that other developing countries should take a closer look at Cuba.39 This is despite the fact that the Cuban model flies in the face of the neoliberal reforms prescribed by both the World Bank and the IMF. Because Cuba's agricultural model goes so against the grain of orthodox economic thought, the World Bank has called Cuba the "antimodel."
Indeed, Cuba's fastest growing export is currently ideas. Cuba regularly hosts a number of visiting farmers and agricultural technicians from throughout the Americas (excluding the US), and elsewhere. Cuban agriculture experts are currently teaching agroecological farming methods to Haitian farmers. Ecologists as well as agricultural specialists are finding great promise in the idea that biodiversity is not just a conservation strategy, but a production strategy too.
As declining fossil fuel production impacts civilization, Cuba may find itself in a position to help lead the world into sustainable agriculture. Currently, few countries are willing to invest in human capital and infrastructure the way that Cuba has, but hopefully this will change in the years ahead.
Resistance to Cuban-style agricultural reform would be particularly stiff in the United States. Agrobusiness will not allow all of its holdings and power to be expropriated. Nor is the US government interested in small farms and organic agriculture. The direction of US agriculture is currently towards more advanced technology, greater fossil fuel dependency, and less sustainability. The ability of small farmers and urban gardens to turn a profit is effectively drowned out by the overproduction of agribusiness.
However, now is the time for people to study agroecology (and permaculture as well), with an eye towards implementing this technology once declining fossil fuel production sparks a crisis in industrial agriculture. Our survival will depend upon our ability to implement these ideas once the current technology has failed. The North Korean example shows that the alternative is unthinkable, and the Cuban example shows what is possible.
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