Organic Farming Manual

Miracle Farm Blueprint

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Miracle Farm Blueprint Overview

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Sustainable Agriculture

The practices that are referred to as sustainable agriculture are numerous and vary depending on the local ecology. However, a number of general practices are more or less common to all sustainable agriculture systems. These are crop rotation, cover crops, no-till or low-till farming, soil management, water management, crop diversity, nutrient management, integrated pest management, and rotational grazing. While sustainable farming does not always engender organic farming, for the purposes of this discussion we will assume that it does. Organic farming is the most practical method of reducing fossil fuel input at the level of production. A number of articles and organizations make bold claims about organic farming, stating that it could feed the entire current human population and provide increased production over present methods of industrialized agriculture. These claims appear to misinterpret the data. Studies have shown that sustainable agriculture can produce an average 93...

The Cuban interpretation of organic agriculture

Although specific individuals - farmers and scientists - had been working with organic principles since the 1970s and 1980s, organic agriculture emerged in Cuba as part of a broader response to the food security crisis, symbolized by the formation of the Cuban Association of Organic Agriculture (ACAO) in 1993. The emergence and achievements of ACAO are described in Box 9.1. Because of the context within which the organic concept emerged, the concern of the movement was not on the avoidance of agrochemicals or on market returns, but rather on improvements to the production system based on ecological principles, to adjust the prevailing industrialized approach for increased yields. Key interests were the integration of the previously specialized and separate crop and livestock farms, increases in energy, fuel and land use efficiency, and reversal of the degradation of the natural resource base. For example, Monzote et al (2002, p207) described crop-livestock integration thus 'This...

Learning about more appropriate farming systems Changes in agricultural education

Formal agricultural education remained a priority and to some extent was strengthened over the decade. Schools in the Countryside (Escuelas del Campo) had existed since the 1970s and encouraged an understanding of agriculture amongst the youth (Rosset and Benjamin, 1994). From 1995, basic agriculture was an option on the syllabus of most primary school courses in Cuba. Additionally, ANAP started a programme to teach children within CPA and CCS cooperatives whilst they worked in the fields for half their time. At the start of the Special Period, agricultural polytechnics were instigated in every municipality, each affiliated to a local Mixed Crops Enterprise. Organic agriculture was included as part of the syllabus, and this necessitated a retraining of teachers in this subject (Crespo and Alvarez, 1999). Every university contained a department of agriculture, and of the 600,000 college graduates in Cuba, 27 per cent held agricultural degrees (Lane, 1999). The Agricultural University...

The belated development of certified organic agriculture

In late 1999, MINAG made an internal announcement of its intention to produce organically for export, according to one ministry official, 'An order has come from the top to give the Ministry of Agriculture the green light to pursue organic production for export,' and by 2000 MINAG was attempting to institutionalize certified organic agriculture. That this had not occurred earlier in the decade is attributed to several factors. Organic exports could not be considered until national food deficits had been filled. Perhaps more realistically, for much of the Special Period, the agricultural sector had been simply too busy struggling to feed the population to turn to export activities. Another reason for not having developed organic exports was the insufficient organizational capacity and know-how to meet export quality standards, and the insufficient funds to build such capacity. In addition, higher-level personnel had been unconvinced of the benefits of organic agriculture. Organic...

Potential driving forces for the scalingup of organic agriculture

Cuba's successes in recovering its food security status and agricultural productivity suggested that, if the political will was there, the country also had the capacity to develop joined-up policy measures and an enabling environment to support a more sustainable agriculture. Such a move would involve not only the strengthening of existing organic strategies, but also modifying those others that conflicted with this goal. The motivation to scale up organic agriculture could come about for several reasons. In a period of just ten years, Cuba had made a transition from facing serious food deficits and shortages in calorific intake, to one in which more than one-third of the population of Havana was considered to be overweight and Western diseases prevalent. For although the state had solved some of the problems of inadequacy of food supply, its focus on quantity over quality issues appeared to be somewhat counter-productive. Cuba was showing that it was possible to ensure food supplies...

Types of farming system in the s

Cuban farms were divided into state and non-state ownership. After the agrarian reforms of the Revolution, approximately 30 per cent of agricultural land was owned by individual farmers, and after that time the state made various attempts to integrate these into the centralized and specialized food planning, production and distribution system, by purchasing or renting this land (Zimbalist and Eckstein, 1987 Ramirez Cruz, 1994). By the late 1980s, these efforts had led to four main types of farm organization state farms, Agricultural Production Cooperatives (CPA), Cooperatives for Credit and Services (CCS), and individual farmers. In 1989, private or non-state production contributed 35 per cent of national production and 48 per cent of export foodstuffs, despite the fact that it covered only 20 per cent of total agricultural area and received lower investments (Nova, 1994 Nova, 2002). Each of these four main types of farm organization is described below.

Agricultural Lands in Annex I Countries A Source or a Sink of CO

Annex I countries, with the exceptions of the United Kingdom and Australia, reported that their land use change and forestry sectors were a net sink of carbon in 1990 and 1995.75 As with CH4 and N2O emissions, however, the inventory data must be used cautiously. Current estimates focus more on forests than agricultural lands and do not include changes in carbon stocks caused by most agricultural activities. Although the land use change and forestry sector detailed in the IPCC Guidelines for National Greenhouse Gas Inventories is inclusive in theory,76 countries may have difficulty estimating carbon changes associated with all land uses and land use changes. For instance, in the U.S. inventory of GHG emissions and sinks, only two categories of agricultural land use and land management activities are included agricultural use of organic soils and liming.77 Activities on mineral soils (the majority of arable land), which could either increase or decrease soil carbon, are not yet included...

The Food From Family Farms

The National Family Farm Coalition (NFFC) represents family farm and rural groups in the U.S. whose members face the challenge of the deepening economic recession in rural communities. The NFFC works closely with international farm organizations to ensure that agriculture policies on both domestic and international fronts maintain farmer livelihoods and rural communities. NFFC promotes an alternative to the current U.S. Farm Bill The Food From Family Farms Act. This Act would establish fair farm prices, create a food security reserve so that bountiful crops won't depress markets, conservation set-asides to avoid wasteful over-production, and provide loans to help farmers own their land and adopt sustainable farming practices. Most importantly, The Food From Family Farms Act includes goals of trade cooperation based on the principle of food sovereignty the right of every nation to devise farm and food policy ensuring food security in keeping with its traditions and need for sound...

Modern AgriCulture And iNDiGenous Farmer

Modern agriculture has also unleashed an array of fresh problems. Increased use of pesticides and fertilisers to boost the yield affected the environment severely and proved to be hazardous with the growing threat from chemical residues in soil, water, air and agriculture produces, pest resurgence and soil degradation and drastic depletion in water table. The over dependency on modern science led to a search for corrective technology and inventions, which in turn created a hopeless no-win situation and an irreversible chain-reaction of side effects was set into motion. The farmers, disenchanted with the recipe of modern agriculture as offered by the agricultural journalism set-up, sought alternative methods of knowledge exchange. Several initiatives exploring alternative agricultural methods all over the world demonstrate certain features like These efforts, countering the archetypal, narrative approach by interpretative and analytical presentation of facts, are considered by farmers...

The Primacy of Yields and Modern Agriculture

Between the Neolithic agricultural revolution and a.d. 1200, farming people probably improved the yields of cereals and other crops by selecting better individuals to save for seed and by improving other farming practices. We can make only approximate estimates, however, on the yields they obtained and the magnitudes of improvements achieved. A variety of estimates suggest that, without manure or fallowing, returns for planting wheat may drop as low as three units harvested for one unit planted. Both fallowing and manuring, however, can yield substantial returns of over fifteen to one. Neolithic yields of wheat may have seldom dropped below 400 kilograms per hectare and more likely were in the area of 800 kilograms per hectare in a climate like England's.39 The first improvements known with more certainty in historic times involve more intensive farming practices. One of the best documented innovations was the switch from the two-field system to the three-field system, a transition...

Characteristics of a postpetroleum food and farming system localized and organic

The widespread uptake of ecologically based, organic farming would see changes in land use and human resources. In order to achieve sustainable stocking rates that can be maintained on homegrown or locally grown feed, some of the land currently put to intensive meat and dairy production would need to be freed up for fodder crops. To improve soil fertility, more land would be put to nitrogen-fixing crops, and human sewage recycled as fertilizer (Harnapp, 1988 Offerman and Nieberg, 2000 Fairlie, 2007). This in turn would necessitate cultural changes to reduce the meat content of diets. Given the biophysical limitations on the capacity to expand and specialize, the average size of land holding would decrease and farm numbers would increase (Campbell and Coombes, 1999). Farm labour would also generally increase, depending on the type of production system. For example, a temperate mixed farm which included on-farm processing and direct marketing would have labour increases of approximately...

Cuba the global example of a postpetroleum food system

Or is there Throughout the 1990s, reports were coming through on the resounding success of Cuba in heading-off a major national food crisis, a crisis that had been brought on by drastic shortfalls in imported fuel, food and agro-chemical input supplies (these reports include, for example, Levins, 1990 Altieri, 1993 Carney, 1993 Rosset and Benjamin, 1994 Wilson and Harris, 1996 Rosset and Moore, 1997 Ritchie, 1998 Bourque, 1999 Moskow, 1999 Murphy, 1999). Figure 1.1 lists some of the headlines of these reports which emerged mainly through study tours2 and visits to Cuba by foreign interest groups. Was Cuba demonstrating a post-petroleum food system, feeding its people through state-supported, localized, organic farming

Policy and institutional mechanisms to support local and organic food systems

For centuries, rural farming communities operated their own, localized support systems, involving the exchange of knowledge, goods and services. With the onset of industrialization, these aspects became externalized, so that farmers were perceived as clients for the receipt or transfer of technology that was developed in the research field or laboratory. Industrial science is concerned with knowledge emanating from controlled and repeatable experiments, and by causal relationships between action and reaction. The outcomes are sets of products to sell to the farmer as inputs, with the same product being applied over a large area. Compared with this, organic science is concerned with processes, such as nutrient and energy cycles, decomposition and succession. It takes a holistic approach, seeing the component parts as forming a greater whole (Wolfert, 2002). The outcomes of this science are techniques to manage and work with nature more effectively, and as such need to be more...

Petroleumdependent agriculture and food systems

These industrialized farming systems use approximately 10 calories of fossil energy to produce 1 calorie of food energy (Hamer and Anslow, 2008). In the USA, for example, 29 per cent of farm energy use goes on fertilizer production, In analyses of alternative farming systems, modern organic agriculture4 generally consumes less energy than industrialized, although more than traditional subsistence farming. Although organic farming may use more machine hours, this is offset by the absence of other fuel and petrochemical uses. Studies report that organic agriculture performs better on a per hectare scale with respect to both direct energy consumption - fuel and oil - and indirect consumption - synthetic fertilizers and pesticides (Scialabba and Hattam, 2002 Ziesemer, 2008). Any increase in labour requirements of organic farming is an employment opportunity. A comparative analysis of energy inputs on long-term trials at the Rodale Institute, USA, found that organic farming systems use 63...

The significance of continued petrol and agrochemical use

Overall, and based on the continued use of petrochemicals and the intention to use them more widely when possible, there were no instances of a rural farm proactively practising organic agriculture across the whole entity. The prioritization system systematically valued agrochemical farming and undervalued organic farming. Yet in the absence of sufficient on-farm vision, knowledge, capacity and motivation to properly implement viable organic systems, this system proved a successful strategy for maintaining production levels during critical years, not only in terms of its physical contribution to yield performance, but also in terms of maintaining a degree of moral cohesion in the agricultural sector. The successes of higher-potential farms served as models for other farmers, and morale and hope were sustained. That some petrol was still available, however slight, indicated to farmers that the situation had not completely fallen apart and was going to get better. At the same time,...

Underlying challenges to implementing widespread organic systems

2 No policy commitment - neither the state nor the people had chosen to farm organically the situation had been forced upon them. Out of this emerged varying degrees of reluctance to change from the previous industrial approach, and this was strongly influenced by the nationwide drive to maximize production. Any production approach had to prove itself in terms of short-term yield performance. Additionally there was a degree of institutional reticence to change, given the jobs, structures and investments already built up around the industrialized model. As one ministry staff explained, 'Even in the absence of agribusiness, industrialized agriculture in Cuba supports a bureaucratic system which does not want to change.'2 In the absence of policy support, no markets were developed for organic produce and therefore no cost incentives existed for farmers. Additionally, activities to promote organic farming, whether by the grassroots organic movement or individual pioneers, could not...

Driving forces behind current levels of agricultural sustainability

Several foreign reporters have commented on Cuba's pro-organic policy. 'Organic agriculture has been adopted as the official government strategy for all new agriculture in Cuba, after its highly successful introduction just seven years ago' (The Pesticides Trust, 1998) 'Cuba is perhaps the best example of large-scale government support to organic agriculture It is an integral part of agricultural policy' (Scialabba, 2000). In reality there was, up to 2000, no legislation on organic agriculture, certified or otherwise. Perhaps the most firm, high-level endorsement was in a speech given by Castro at the 1996 World Food Summit, where he stated that 'Enhancing food security demands extending sustainable agricultural techniques so that the various economic units operate as agro-ecological farms.' Therefore, although certain elements of an organic system were present in the country, such as the CREEs, the grassroots organic movement (ACAO), organic training courses, urban organoponicos and...

Developing ecological knowledge systems The need to increase ecological literacy

The extent of, and capacity for, ecological innovation and experimentation was dependent on the presence of relevant knowledge. The lack of relevant knowledge and training was one of the main limitations to the increased use of organic approaches. Farmers had most commonly received training in bio-pesticides, with some also on bio-fertilizers. The thematic knowledge gaps amongst both farmers and the institutional support sector were those relating to water conservation and usage, to product quality, and to the principles underlying organic agriculture. Many farmers had not heard of the terms 'organic' (organico) or 'agro-ecology' (agro-ecologia). Farmers also identified specific training needs on the following dietary and health requirements of draught oxen, the demonstration of appropriate soil fertility techniques, seed exchange and seed quality control, and the correct use of biological pest control products. In particular, increasing the training opportunities on organic inputs...

The historical development of urban agriculture Emergence from the grassroots

Urban agriculture emerged spontaneously out of the hardships of the early 1990s. For urban dwellers who had migrated from the countryside, cultivating urban waste land and keeping small livestock was a natural survival strategy. Possibly the first coordinated effort was the Santa Fe project in the north-west of Havana City, initiated in 1991 by individuals who went on to become co-founders of the Cuban organic movement. Taking advantage of the available resources within the community, they reclaimed empty urban space for food production to help overcome irregular and inadequate food supplies, using the principles of organic agriculture by default. Production tripled over the first three years to supply approximately 30 per cent of local food needs (Windisch, 1994).

Industrialized planning ecological planning

Several aspects of agricultural and food planning and organization worked against organic agriculture. The state production plan was based on tonnage and advocated crops that were not always appropriate to the locality. These plans could include the provision of a technology package of agrochemical inputs. The national farm intensification programme worked against the use of green legumes in rotations, intercropping and fallows. In the seed sector, the centralized seed distribution system worked against farmers developing their own skills and expertise for locally appropriate varieties. To reverse these impacts would require a planning system grounded in an ecological perspective.

Social recognition of the need for change

A recurrent theme was that practical change required a corresponding shift in mentality, and that 'attitudes take time to change'. This viewpoint, shared by many, tended to inhibit any attempt to encourage change, because of the anticipated negative response. At the same time, professionals in the agricultural sector had no difficulty in identifying the need for a mental shift by some other group or individual, but never for the professional him- or herself. Perhaps because of this, the provision of training in organic agriculture was targeted largely at farmers rather than support staff, yet in reality many farmers were further down the transition pathway. Given the directive approach of the institutional sector in Cuba, re-training and attitude change amongst agricultural professionals were critical for a more widespread change. Following this, supporters of organic agriculture in Cuba were at the end of the decade emphasizing the need for a shift in consciousness, in order to move...

Increasing the availability of and access to appropriate resources and technology

The second major factor to enable the scaling-up of organic agriculture was the need for improved access to organic inputs such as biological pest controls and manure. This was considered crucial by both farmers and institutional professionals and especially in order to turn around the process of soil degradation. By the end of the decade, agrochemicals were becoming increasingly available and were considered by many to be easier to apply and faster acting, albeit more expensive. It was not only input access but also availability, price and delivery that were of concern to farmers. Specific inputs, resources and technologies Box 9.2 Perceptions and practices of organic agriculture by a pioneer farmer veteran CPA farmer Ricardo Manuel had first encountered organic agriculture back in 1992 at a seminar heralding the inception of the Cuban organic movement. This approach was not new to Ricardo it was similar to traditional agriculture that farmers had practised for centuries, whereas he...

Supporting social sustainability and change Common social challenges

Certain social factors were also crucial for the scaling-up of organic agriculture, and two social disincentives in particular required addressing. Some farmers were unwilling to adopt technologies and practices that they felt were unproven or that were not being diffused by the state. For example, at the end of the decade, some farmers indicated that they would wait for the state to re-introduce biological pest controls rather than attempt to obtain them directly from the CREEs. This attitude was a remnant of the previous top-down extension system that had, to some degree, inculcated dependency and even mistrust. The other social disincentive was the incidence of theft from fields and stables, which limited farmers' crop choices, their seed drying and saving activities, and keeping oxen on-farm if a guard could not be afforded. These social issues of theft, mistrust and dependency would require some time to turn around.

Lack of petrol renewable energies

The pervading lack of petrol held back the development of organic agriculture in its input-substitution state. Cuban farmers saw petrol as being pivotal to the success of their production systems, to fuel both transport and irrigation. Drought-resistant crop varieties, for example, were measured not so much by their yield performance but by the fuel savings that would be made through the decreased need to operate irrigation pumps. Unless organic alternatives could address farmers' concerns of irrigation and traction limitations, they were less likely to be taken up. Efforts to pilot renewable energies were driven largely by one small NGO feasibility studies indicated that Cuba could meet all its electricity needs from sugarcane bagasse. At the end of the decade, however, progress on alternative energy was negligible and continued to rely on international donor support (Montanaro, 2000), with little state funding prioritized for investing in renewables on a large scale.

Future directions the need for knowledge and intent

Future directions for agriculture in Cuba were still not completely clear, not least because of the continued dichotomy of the productionist mandate versus sustainability objectives. A large minority of farmers had the intention to become more organic and many others were ambivalent about it, being open to this direction if moves were facilitated for them. The conditions of the Special Period had exposed many in the agricultural sector to alternative directions who would not otherwise have looked for them. Policy was becoming geared towards a more integrated farming approach, although terminology was ambiguous depending on whence it was emanating. If organic agriculture is defined not only by the extent of appropriate husbandry practices but also by the intent and the knowledge base (of the farmer), then both knowledge and intent require addressing in Cuba. Nevertheless, investment in human capacity-building takes substantial time to fully manifest and the full potential of the...

Opportunities for scalingup organic production Factors affecting scalingup

Funes (2002) identified a number of factors that favoured the development of organic agriculture in Cuba. These included the high number of qualified personnel, widespread experience in community approaches, supportive administrative and social structures, government-sponsored publicity campaigns in the interests of the people, favourable research findings, and the presence of organizations dedicated to the creation of an organic culture. Those working in the agricultural sector - researchers, extensionists, management and policy-makers, and especially farmers - were clear about the type of support necessary to increase organic agriculture in the country, and even bring it into the mainstream. Farm assets such as land and labour were not considered to offer any serious constraints to organic production, although there were regional differences in this respect. In fact, any increase in labour demand that resulted from a change to organic production was seen as a benefit farmers could...

Preface and Acknowledgements

Concerns in the early 21st Century around dwindling oil reserves and their impact on the food system are nothing new and come as no surprise. Way back in the 1970s, for example, school geography classes taught of non-renewable energies, their lifespan and our dependency on them. It was not a fear of oil depletion that inspired the research upon which this book is based, nor any other fear over the state of our food system be it food shortages, human ill-health or environmental degradation. This research was instigated by a deep curiosity to understand why what seemed a more common-sense and logical approach to food and farming was not being practised. For it seemed logical to want to enrich and regenerate the natural resource base for the creation of vibrant, healthy food systems. It seemed logical to want to work in harmony with ecological processes and to avoid destructive activities that continually proved not to work. Yet this logic was not shared by the mainstream, and thus there...

Life after the crisis

The lack of resources soon instigated recycling and energy-efficient campaigns the use of bicycles and larger public buses (camelos), a national school campaign to collect recyclable materials in exchange for school supplies, active neighbourhood recycling centres, new factories to produce domestic items from recycled materials, and a nationwide environmental education campaign. There has been a tendency to interpret this phenomenon as a proactive choice by Cuban authorities to 'go green', and no more so than through the major postcrisis success story the rise of urban organic agriculture.

Recognition of campesino production

Of equal importance, extensionists and researchers had started to learn from farmers and their practices. This learning included that traditional practices were vitally important as the backbone for a resilient agriculture, that farmers had the capacity to innovate, that changes in husbandry practices might necessitate a change in mentality of the farmer, and that farmer autonomy was important to enable spontaneous adaptation. One social geographer, for example, observed through her own field research that 'Farmers are practising new strategies, neither stemming from the research institutes nor from traditional knowledge, but new innovations such as intercropping with plantain, or planting early varieties because of the demand from the farmers' markets.' Similarly, Guillot Silva et al (2000) documented the emergence and existence of 'spontaneous' organic agriculture, whereby farmers were building up complex, integrated and profitable agro-ecosystems without external support.

The need to support innovation and experimentation

As well as generating knowledge to fill some of the identified gaps, more localized farming systems required an ongoing process of locally appropriate knowledge generation. Pre-identified gaps in knowledge identified by institutional professionals included non-chemical weed management, the use of polycultures, water conservation, alternative energy on-farm, specific pests and diseases, appropriate diversification strategies, allelopathy, minimum tillage and optimum planting dates. In addition, farmers also requested new innovations such as more strategic development projects to encourage a move beyond the use of inputs of any kind, the encouragement of both diversification and regional specialization, and the development of alternative energy sources on-farm. Given the difficulties in accessing knowledge from abroad, generating knowledge in-country was particularly important, and recovering and incorporating traditional knowledge into the research process was seen as being critical....

Lames E Home PhD Maura McDermott

Essential Steps to a Healthy, Sustainable Agriculture TV odern industrial agriculture, 1 VA authors Horne and McDermott tell us, is deservedly on trial. Although it has given us an abundance of food, in the process it continues to cause serious environmental, health, and safety problems that endanger our natural resources, future food supplies, and the well-being of farmers, rural communities, and eventually all citizens. The remedy, their book describes with conviction and clarity, is what people now call a 'sustainable agriculture.' Written in an honest, down-to-earth style, this highly readable book gives us an insightful account of the struggle now underway to make sustainable agriculture a truly viable alternative to conventional farming. The authors' conviction is understandable and contagious. A That kind of agriculture do we need, and how can farmers provide it These are the two questions addressed in Horne and McDermott's book, The Next Green Revolution. The book begins with...

The policy dilemma increased yields or longerterm sustainability

Policy development on environmental sustainability emanated from the Ministry of Science, Technology and Environment (CITMA). For example, Environmental Law 1997, Section 9, Article 132 was devoted to sustainable agriculture and called for a more rationalized use of locally appropriate industrialized and organic inputs and IPM measures (P rez and V zquez, 2002, pp136-137). However, MINAG, which was in charge of production and management of resources, had a singular mandate to increase production and did not have the resources to police the upholding of the law. The 17 national agricultural research centres had reoriented their programmes toward sustainability, which entailed the promotion of three strategies biotechnology to obtain high yields integrated agriculture and the combined use of biological inputs and agrochemicals (Diaz, 2000). The term 'low input' was ill-defined one researcher attempted to explain it thus 'Low input can be without any or with low amounts of inputs. Low...

Implications of the Cuban experience for global agriculture and food security

Global consensus exists over the need for widespread change in order to deal with peak oil as well as with climate change. It also exists over the need for widespread change in the food system in order to achieve food security, and in the farming system to become more sustainable. Yet although these issues have been on the public radar for at least 40 years, the desired goals and pathways to reach them are unclear, and relatively little has actually been achieved. Cuba is quite unique in its mode of centralized governance, and some might argue that because of this it is difficult to extrapolate from these experiences. Yet in almost every other part of the world, decisions over resources connected to agriculture and the food supply chain are highly centralized amongst a few corporations. The extent of real, conscious choice available to both consumers and producers may be very similar. These apparently different ideologies could in fact be stemming from the same paradigm, and Finn...

Attempts at changing the topdown research and extension approach

With the changing nature of farming structures, of resource use, and of differing food needs, so agricultural research and extension also had to change, in Traditional research had focused on the predetermined needs of the planned economy. According to staff in MINAG's Science and Technology Department, 'Researchers used to select those farmers who produced the highest yields and who had leadership characteristics but who were not representatives of the majority of farmers.' Research was deemed to have been successful if there was 'proof from the beneficiaries that the technology had worked, such as a pile of letters.' Towards the end of 1995, MINAG, CITMA and MES started a process of inter-institutional consolidation to revise the aims, objectives and strategies of the 19 research institutes. This led to the establishment of a model network the National System of Agricultural Science and Technological Innovation (SINCITA). SINCITA's mission was 'To contribute to national food...

Institutional Coping Strategies Transition and Decentralization

In Cuba more than most other countries, the farming system is both planned and managed by the state. This means that changes in farming practices and processes were both partially determined by, and would affect, state institutions, which would themselves be impacted by the conditions of the Special Period. As Sinclair and Thompson (2001) explain

A snapshot of the Cuban experience in the s

This book provides a snapshot of the Cuban food and farming system as it struggled to cope with continued low-levels of petroleum inputs and food imports during the mid-to-latter stages of the 1990s. It is based on research carried out in Cuba during 1999 to 2001. After that period, petroleum and food imports have been steadily increasing into the country. The experiences of the 1990s thus stand unique, for the time being at least. The book first addresses the concept of peak oil and the dependency of the industrialized food and farming system, typified by Cuba. As well as developing and implementing alternative energy supplies, the peak oil challenge provides the opportunity for more creative improvements of the farming and food system in order to achieve equitable access and optimal health for all and over the long term. An analysis of recent Cuban agricultural history explains why the country found itself in such a predicament of dependency at the end of the 1980s. The experiences...

Facilitating change to localized systems

Understanding Cuba's adapted food and farming system and the way it developed holds relevance from several angles. Even in the face of a crisis, could Cuba have made a transition to a localized and organic food system, one that fed the population If so, what were the factors that supported this, and if it had not made this transition, then why not As well as providing a learning example for the peak-oil challenge, these insights have broad applicability for other resource-poor countries attempting to increase their food security status.

Quantity incentive quality incentive

Production plan were not differentiated by quality, and nor was there any financial stimulus for this (except for the tourist market). Any quality differentiation was again based on product size and weight, and secondarily on pest residues. The ration system also limited the opportunity for the development of farmer-consumer relations over quality produce. Far from detracting from good and consistent yield performance, a focus on quality would also bring benefits in terms of residue-free and nutritionally high-value produce. Such a refocusing could also be used as a vehicle around which to raise awareness on human health and nutrition issues, as well as on farming techniques that improved the quality of the natural resource base.

The reported response to the crisis

In response to the crisis, the Cuban government launched a national effort to convert the nation's agricultural sector from high input agriculture to low input, self-reliant farming practices on an unprecedented scale. Because of the drastically reduced availability of chemical inputs, the state hurried to replace them with locally produced, and in most cases biological, substitutes. This has meant bio-pesticides (microbial products) and natural enemies to combat insect pests, resistant plant varieties, crop rotations and microbial antagonists to combat plant pathogens, and better rotations and cover cropping to suppress weeds. Synthetic fertilizers have been replaced by bio-fertilizers, earthworms, compost, other organic fertilizers, natural rock phosphate, animal and green manures, and the integration of grazing animals. In place of tractors, for which fuel, tyres and spare parts were largely unavailable, there has been a sweeping return to animal traction.

The Ministry of Agriculture MINAG and its entities

The Ministry of Agriculture contained 24 departments and 19 national-level research and support institutions that comprised the National Institute of Plant Protection (Sanidad Vegetal), the Soils Institute (Instituto de Suelos), and 17 largely commodity-focused agricultural research centres. For production support and marketing, MINAG operated a nationwide network of institutional entities Agricultural Enterprises, the Cooperative Campesino Sector (Sector Cooperativa Campesino, SCC) and Acopio (described later), as well as running 222 state farms (MINAG, 1999). The Credit and Commerce Bank (BANDEC) provided credit to the state farms and cooperatives.

Institutional support for urban agriculture

In Havana Province, the Department of Urban Agriculture employed 292 workers, including 12-14 specialists within each of 13 municipalities. Each region had a Municipal Urban Farm Enterprise, which coordinated production, research and extension activities and networks (Ojeda, 1999). Details of the achievements of urban agriculture were regularly published in the national newspaper, Granma, and this publicity was used to encourage improvement. In each of the municipal people's councils was placed a qualified extensionist who liaised with farmers to develop demand-driven research programmes. Havana City had 67 such extensionists in 1998. INIFAT played a key role in coordinating urban agricultural research, which included, for example, the development of strategies for testing, evaluating and producing commercial quantities of bio-inputs (Wilson and Harris, 1996). The people's councils also

Overall increase in diversity of farming types

By 1997 there were 1500 UBPCs occupying 21 per cent of agricultural land, 1150 CPAs occupying 9.4 per cent, and 2700 CCSs occupying 12 per cent. In addition, 71,000 individual workers were holding 103,334ha of land in perpetuity (3 per cent of agricultural land), mainly for coffee, cocoa and self-provisioning. These non-state farms became responsible for 90 per cent of sugarcane land and 42 per cent of non-sugar cropping land. Although they comprised the UBPCs, CPAs, CCSs and individual producers, only the CPAs, CCSs and individuals were classified as campesinos (Wroe, 1996 ONE, 1997 MINAG, 1998).

Improving rural agricultural conditions

The improvement of rural conditions had a major impact on increasing domestic food availability. Two major land tenureship changes encouraged this the distribution of land in perpetuity, which led to a broader section of the population becoming involved in self-provisioning, and the transformation of state farms into cooperatives called Basic Units for Cooperative Production (UBPCs). By 1999, almost 3000 UBPCs had been formed, and just over two-thirds of agricultural land was held by the private sector.

Influence of organic production on food availability

Several individual elements of an organic approach were being employed in the food system of localizing production-consumption linkages and enabling the availability of more diverse and fresh produce. With over 80 per cent of agricultural land under permanent crops and pastures, so the remainder was forced under organic-style rotations and biological input use in order to increase the number of short-cycle food crops. However, the steady increase in food production could be attributed to these but also to a whole raft of other factors, and the organic-style of production employed for some crops, such as people's rice, was not easy to assess in terms of productivity gains owing to the informal and complex marketing and self-provision systems that operated around these.

Places and people in the field

Field research was undertaken in Cuba between 1999 and 2001, under the auspices of the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences (INCA) which pertains to the Ministry of Higher Education (MES). The main study regions were the Provinces of Havana (municipalities of San Antonio de los Ba os and Bataban ), Cienfuegos towards the centre of the island (municipality of

The ration system and social security

During this period, the state managed to maintain its purchase contracts with farmers so as to guarantee the availability of rationed products. At least 80 per cent of the main crops produced were contracted in this way (Rodriguez, 1998). Agricultural products would be collected by Acopio at the farm, or delivered by the farmer to the local Acopio centre, and then transported to centralized urban markets from where the goods would be transferred to neighbourhood distribution centres which were specialized for crops, meat or dairy (Enriquez, 1994).

Change in farmgate prices and markets

Were introduced whereby basic prices for produce were still determined at the time of planning, but any surplus production by the farmer now received a slightly higher price from the state (sugar was an exception to this). The farmer also now had the choice to sell this surplus through other channels. For export crops such as sugarcane and tobacco, part of the purchase price was paid in US dollars. Individual farmers received this in the form of cash, though in the case of cooperative members the cash was kept in a state account that members could access to purchase dollar goods such as tools, inputs and clothing.

Creation of free farmers markets and private food businesses

Farmers were thus provided with a range of obligatory and non-obligatory outlets for their produce. They were obliged to satisfy their own needs, those of the state plan, their social responsibilities to hospitals or nurseries, and then the needs of export markets, tourism, industry and seed supply. All these commitments vied with supplying the farmers' market, and market officials checked that farmers had first met their production quotas for Acopio before permitting sales. One farm extensionist explained this 'In the future we could get a place on the farmers' market, but not this year. We have and want to meet the national demand first - through Acopio and then Frutas Selectas.' These commitments aside, anyone who worked the land could sell there, either directly or through a sales representative. This raised another problem the elimination of middle men. The state wanted to avoid or reduce speculation on basic food products, and for this reason was experimenting with concentrating...

Trends in domestic agriculture and food supplies

By the end of 2006, state farms numbered 6000 and covered 35 per cent of the cultivable land area, a figure similar to the previous decade. Non-state farms numbered almost 5000, and of these, 57 per cent were UBPC farms, which covered 37 per cent of the land area. CPA farms numbered 690, covering 9 per cent of land, and CCS and individual farmers totalled 1400 and covered the remaining 18 per cent of land area. These figures indicate that, since the late 1990s, UBPC farms had increased in numbers and land coverage whilst CPA and CCS cooperatives had decreased. That UBPCs were emerging as the dominant form of production gives credit to the ex-state farm workers who had not only survived the transition to privatization but were apparently consolidating their position, albeit with strong state support. State farms contained a high proportion of pastures, degraded land and forest, while CCS farms had more land given over to mixed crops, coffee and tobacco.

Research perspectives

The material for this book is based on doctoral research that set out to answer these questions. Conducted between 1998 and 2005, this research was based at Wageningen University in the Netherlands, and in Cuba at the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences, INCA (Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agr colas). The research objective was to evaluate the implications for the food and agriculture sectors in Cuba of a widespread reduction in petroleum-based inputs. As discussed in Chapter 2, the issues being examined were complex and multidisciplinary, and were categorized into three perspectives for analysis first, a perspective with which to determine the kind of low-petroleum food system that Cuba had developed second, a perspective that addressed the issue of how Cuba managed the transition and change and third, a perspective through which to ascertain the degree to which Cuba had managed to achieve an adequate food system for its people.

Glossary and translations

Industrialized farming system based on concepts of industrialization - high agriculture external inputs, high outputs, homogeneous environment and people, tending to monocropping and large-scale systems La Bodega food ration store La Libreta food ration book Las Placitas capped-price municipal markets latifundio large landed estate organic farming system that uses regenerative husbandry practices agriculture based on the principles and science of ecology synonymous with agro-ecology, ecological, biological and biodynamic agriculture, and natural farming organoponico raised-bed, intensive urban agricultural unit tiro directo direct marketing en usufructo in perpetuity

The Cuban food system in crisis

Figure 1.1 International reporting on the transformation towards organic agriculture in Cuba in the 1990s Figure 1.1 International reporting on the transformation towards organic agriculture in Cuba in the 1990s The abrupt changes of 1989 hit the Cuban agricultural sector particularly hard for four reasons. Firstly, Cuba had an extreme industrialized agricultural system, one that was using more tractors and applying more nitrogen fertilizer per hectare (192kg ha) than similar production systems in the USA (Hamilton, 2003). Mechanized irrigation systems covered over one-quarter of all crop land. Secondly, Cuba was importing not just a select few of the inputs and foodstuffs it required for survival but the large majority of them. In 1988, for example, 90 per cent of fertilizers and pesticides, and 57 per cent of food needs, were being imported (Rosset and Benjamin, 1993). Within the country, farms controlled by the Cuban Ministry of Agriculture, which worked 70 per cent of agricultural...

Urban versus rural agriculture

Cuba's transition towards greater food security has been built on a patchwork approach to agriculture in which organic techniques have played a significant, but not exclusive, role. Throughout the Special Period, Cuba adopted several characteristics of a localized, organic farming system. These included more location-specific strategies, a relative increase in participatory extension approaches and institutional decentralization, the promotion of organic inputs, and more localized production-consumption chains. Other characteristics were, however, barely visible, such as widespread ecological literacy, localized seed systems, collective relinquishment of industrialized practices, and the application of holistic and systems principles. A reduction in access to fuel and agrochemicals alone would not necessarily lead to widespread organic production systems. Yet the experience of urban agriculture stands as an example of what Cuban society was capable of achieving. Urban agriculture took...

Degradation of the natural resource base

Ecologically based, organic farming practices show themselves to be more successful at supporting a broad and adapted diversity of crop species and varieties, building soil fertility and plant resistance to disease and infection, and maintaining clean water courses (Greene and Kremen, 2003 SAN, 2003 Marriot and Wander, 2006). Strengthening the natural resource base also enables farms to better withstand external shocks and stresses, including drought and flood (Holt-Gimenez, 2002 Lotter et al, 2003 Ching, 2004). Agriculture accounts for 70 per cent of freshwater use globally, and the UN predicts that, by 2025, 38 per cent of the population will have insufficient water supply (compared with 8 per cent in 2008) (Lang, 2008). Organic practices increase water retention capacity and efficiency by improving soil structure and increasing soil life, by cultivating climatically adapted varieties, and by growing polycultures of deeprooting and ground-covering crops. Evidence also indicates that...

Petroleumbased food systems and food security

Over the next few decades, nations will be experiencing fluctuations and increasing scarcity of fossil fuel supplies, and this will affect food prices. Alternative farming and food systems are required. Industrialized countries in particular have been over-consuming fossil fuels by two-thirds, and their agricultural sectors have contributed this with their heavy dependence on cheap fossil energy for mechanization and as a basis for agrochemical inputs such as pesticides and fertilizers. The corresponding industrial food systems in which these farming systems are embedded are similarly dependent on cheap fossil fuels for the ever-increasing processing and movement of foodstuffs. The low fuel prices, combined with the industry's avoidance of paying clean-up costs of environmental pollution, have enabled the maintenance of low food prices (Vandermeer et al, 1993 Odum, 1994 Tansey and Worsley, 1995 Desai and Riddlestone, 2002 Harrison, 2004). Alternative, organic agriculture shows to...

An ineffective food system

Nonetheless, more ecologically based, organic production approaches are sidestepped by international development agencies and national ministries of agriculture owing to their reportedly low yield performance and, therefore, their apparent inability to meet global food needs or be appropriate in food insecure situations (IAC, 2003). In fact, early yield comparisons between certified organic and industrial agriculture has indicated a yield decline of approximately 20 per cent for organic production. However, these studies were based on the performance of certain market-oriented organic systems in temperate climatic regions. Whereas outputs of any one specific crop may be lower on an organic farm than an industrialized one, total farm yields are higher (Altieri et al, 1998). More recent studies show non-certified organic farming approaches to achieve significant yield increases over both traditional and industrial agriculture, and in particular in resource-poor regions on marginal lands...

Why Organic Is Better for the Earth

Because of the constraints placed on organic farmers, the food they produce is less harmful to the planet than factory-farmed foods. Organic farming creates Healthier soil. A 21-year field trial conducted in Switzerland found that organic farming practices enhanced soil fertility and biodiversity the soil had more mycorrhizae (fungi that attach to roots and help plants absorb nutrients), beneficial microbes, and earthworms than soil farmed using conventional methods. Other studies indicate that soil on organic farms holds water better, which means less watering and more water conservation. Fewer greenhouse-gas emissions. The main reason that organic farming produces fewer greenhouse gases is that it doesn't use synthetic fertilizers, which take a lot of energy to produce. For example, it takes 9.8 kWh to produce a single kilogram of nitrogen fertilizer.

Beyond Organic Biological Agriculture Systems in Cotton BASIC

Obstacles to totally organic adoption by farmers include high managerial costs and risks of shifting to a new way of farming, limited awareness of organic farming systems, lack of marketing and infrastructure, and inability to capture marketing economies. The U.S. has no domestic policies to address these issues, and so some innovative programs and strategies are being developed that either help bridge a transition to organic, or enable farmers to incorporate more ecological practice and still earn a living income.

Discussion and Conclusions

This dual role is clearer in the consideration of organisational actors. While organisations may have access to specialised knowledge and expertise, they may also be seen as promoting a particular perspective. For example, while several respondents cite the Soil Association (the main UK body supporting organic farming) as a source, this is hardly likely to enhance credibility in the eyes of respondent R005, who states 'Personally, I deliberately avoid anything labelled 'organic' in shops, because I expect it to rot quicker and be more likely to carry risks (R005, 18-19). Trustworthiness cannot be read off directly from the nature of the organisation, but depends on the perceptions of the trustor.9 The ways in which organisations are referred to give an indication of the respondent's attitude to their credibility. A reference to the green anti-capitalist movement (R022, 217), without mentioning any specific organisation, suggests the respondent's lack of support for the view of such...

Reducing ecological footprints

Much of the impacts for reducing ecological footprints has been covered alongside localisation, in the previous section, but there are further aspects to consider as well. A commitment to sustainable farming and food is evident in Eostre's mission statement above, and this is forcefully supported by their customers. Of the customers who responded to the survey, 94 stated that they bought from Eostre because they believed local and organic food was better for the environment. For example, one respondent replied ' buying local organic food is important because we believe in sustainability regarding our environment, and we are committed to reducing our 'eco-footprint in any areas we can', and another stated 'I feel I owe it to the Earth'. Other comments included 'I am very concerned about the effects of pesticides and pollution on us and the environment', 'organic farming is better for wildlife' and 'I want to support a farming system that works within environmental resource limits'. As...

What is environmental policy

Conventionally defined by national policymakers as 'environmental' (such as air and water pollution, and waste management), fisheries conservation is part of the remit of the Fisheries DG, forestry and the control of pesticides are the responsibility of the Agriculture DG, and organic farming comes under Health and Consumer Protection. At the same time, EDG is responsible for a number of issues which are not 'environmental' as the term is conventionally understood at the national level, including noise pollution and civil protection. A search through EU documents for a definition of 'environmental policy' raises as many questions as it answers. For example, the annual Directory of Environmental Legislation in Force (published by the European Commission) is restricted mainly to legislation generated by the EDG. Because the EDG has been responsible in the past for consumer issues and public health protection, the list includes laws on consumer credit, cancer prevention and the control...

Brazils Landless Workers Movement MSTReclaiming Land for the Poor

Brazil's Landless Workers Movement (MST) emerged in reaction to the evictions, expropriations, and displacements in Brazil during the dictatorial period of 1979 to 1983. MST is made up of diverse landless peasant organizations demanding the right to live and grow their own food on unused lands. Through occupations of idle land, MST has settled more than a million people on fifteen million acres and forced agrarian reform to the top of the national political agenda. Brazil's government has formally recognized MST's rights to farm these lands. MST's 500 independent production cooperatives process, market, and distribute farm products while actively promoting organic farming methods. Their three credit unions have thousands of members. The examples in this section represent a small but typical sample of the thousands of small farmers, citizen groups, and land-based peoples retaking control of their most basic needs, providing their own communities and families with access to fresh,...

Raising Choice Awareness

In his thesis Alternatives, Nature and Farming, Christensen (1998) discusses the human relationship with nature and the perception of alternatives in agriculture. Christensen engages in the discussion of what is a real alternative. For example, is organic farming a real alternative to conventional agriculture The environmental and nature protection problems of our time require innovative thinking with regard to our perception of nature as well as our agricultural practice. According to Christensen, it is not solely a matter of getting new ideas. Such alternative visions have to be combined with levelheaded and complex analyses. The key issue is to raise the question of how to inspire to a fruitful change in such a way that alternatives are not isolated or end up being another part of the existing systems. Christensen relates to the term radical change, which corresponds well to the concept of radical technological change as used when formulating the two theses of the Choice Awareness...

Ecological modernisation

Ecological modernisation is less relevant to understanding the broader nature of green ideology. Greens have been shaped by a broader left discourse on egalitarianism and democratisation and it is not only for ecological reasons that greens are critical of current society. Even if the ecological crisis was solvable within existing institutions this would probably not satisfy greens. Along with neo-Marxist critics of ecological modernisation theory greens share a concern with the new kinds of social inequality that might result from ecological modernisation. For instance subsidies for organic farming might be directed primarily towards the most economically efficient operations, reinforcing the trend towards larger farms owned by financial institutions and further weakening smaller family farms.

Agriculture and the Environment

Intensive Commercial Agriculture in Developed Countries. Agricultural pollution in developed countries such as the United States is caused by the excessive use of chemicals. In the United States, the use of synthetic pesticides since 1945 has grown thirty-three-fold to about 0.5 billion kilograms (kg) per year or 3 kg per hectare per year. Further, the increase in hazard is even greater than it might appear because the toxicity of modern pesticides has increased by more than ten-fold over those pesticides used in the early 1950s. U.S. data show that 18 percent of all pesticides and about 90 percent of all fungicides are carcinogenic. In addition to humans, thousands of domestic animals are also poisoned by pesticides in the United States. The destruction of natural predators and parasites is costing the nation more than 500 million each year and resulting in the development of pesticide resistance. Ground and surface water contamination from pesticides is a serous issue. The excessive...

Analysis of references to different actor types

Attitudes to actors in the Agricultural category were more ambivalent. It is more heterogeneous, and can be divided into the following broad groups Agribusiness (overlapping with the Industrial category mentioned above), GM farmers, Modern conventional farmers, Organic farmers and Small peasant farmers. themselves. Perceptions of organic farmers were divided between regarding them as victims whose livelihoods are threatened by the risk of cross-contamination from neighbouring GM farms, or as vested interests manipulating the debate for their own motives In North America the organic farming market has been wiped out due to cross fertilisation taking place, so eradicating organic crops. (R011, 61-62) and It was very noticeable to me that the leader of a group of GM protesters . . . actually owned an 'organic' farm, and therefore had strong vested interests in promoting it. (R005, 13-17). The GM industry has bought many court cases against indigenous farmers by the multi national...

Growing local food systems

We can make significant cuts in emissions by localizing our food systems and implementing sustainable agricultural practices. According to Via Campesina, when the entire life-cycle of our globalized food system is taken into account it is responsible for between 44 and 57 percent of total greenhouse gas emissions. This makes food a very logical place to start. Small, diversified farms are capable of producing more calories per acre than large-scale monocultures. They are more resilient to climatic changes, and are far less energy and water intensive. When done correctly, organic agriculture actually sequesters significant amounts of carbon into the soil.

Building bridges making spaces

At the same time, bridge-builders are needed those who can facilitate interaction across and among various social divisions and boundaries. These functions are increasingly undertaken by ad hoc networks that are either established for particular campaigns or events or operate within particular sectors or areas of interest. There are now climate action networks, renewable energy networks, organic agriculture networks, ecological design networks and environmental justice networks that bring together people who work in professional organizations or environmental think-tanks with local activists and personal environmentalists.

Ethanol Corn Sugar Cellulose

Ethanol, or grain alcohol, can be produced from corn, sugar beets, sugar cane, or other crops primarily by fermentation. Ethanol came onto the scene largely as a means of moving toward energy independence. Brazil currently uses ethanol to meet an estimated 40 percent of its transportation requirements. Presently, roughly 20 percent of the corn grown in the United States is converted to ethanol. Current farming methods use a high percentage of petrochemicals, which to some extent defeats the intent of displacing oil. While achieving the twin goals of energy independence and pollution reduction, it is questionable whether ethanol can make much of a dent in the level of carbon dioxide emissions in the short term. Potential efficiency improvements in the ethanol growth and production cycle may improve this situation, this especially if organic farm wastes such as corn stalks, grasses, wheat and rice straw, leaves, and other agricultural leftovers (called lignocellulosic materials) are...

Historical specificity

We might want to quibble over the detail of these claims, but it would be foolish to deny the broad parallels between the combination of scientific rationalism and Romantic arcadianism in both the nineteenth century and today's ecology movement. These (and other) parallels have been reaffirmed by Bramwell in the belief that the import of her earlier work has been largely accepted (Bramwell, 1994, pp. 25-33). Vincent believes that these parallels have been deliberately overlooked due to the reactionary political views associated with such positions in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Basing his argument largely on Bramwell's work, he suggests that the carriers of ecology in this period were primarily conservatives and nationalists (particularly of a 'folkish' persuasion) and, later, fascists and Nazis - it is by now de rigueur to point out that Himmler established an organic farm at Dachau concentration camp, and that both Himmler and Hitler were vegetarians...

The Electoral Challenge

In such circumstances, many individuals prefer to participate in extra-parliamentary movements such as the Hunt Saboteurs organization or go into practical self-sufficiency, for example, in communes or through the purchase and running of organic farms. Others prefer to develop their own individual green spirituality. Many decide to participate in environmental action groups, for example, Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, where environmentalists and ecologists coexist in reasonable harmony. In so doing, they may get ecological as well as environmental ideas on to the political agenda. However, as the 1970s progressed into the 1980s, more and more individuals, both in Britain and elsewhere in Europe, came to believe that pressure group activity and personal spirituality were no substitute for political action. Green parties were formed on a national basis, and began to develop an electoral challenge to the traditional political parties. It is this third element of the...

Table Main Steps in Defining and Using Country Specific Economic Evidence

Focus on how sustainable use of the environment will contribute to the achievement of development priorities for example, if food security is a priority, the economic analysis should highlight how environmentally sustainable agriculture can help achieve food security Ensure that the analysis takes informal markets into account Ensure that gender considerations are included

Basic Units Of Cooperative Production Ubpcs

Fertilizer formula or pesticide to be applied with machinery over the entire area. However, in agroecological farming, the farmer must be intimately familiar with every patch of soil, knowing exactly where to add fertilizer, and where pests are being harbored or are entering the field. Smaller farms were easier to manage, and more compatible with sustainable agriculture.

New agricultural production modes

Sustainable agriculture can help also to supply a more healthy food. In developing countries, it generates new jobs. It is essential to protect such sustainable agriculture in competition with products derived from energy intensive agriculture by taking into account such factors within the international trading mechanisms.

Objective Definitions for Sustainable in a Procurement Code

With respect to sustainable goods or products, an article in the Wall Street Journal, Is Your Grocery List Politically Correct Food World's New Buzzword Is 'Sustainable' Products addressed several issues surrounding the definition of a sustainable product 28 . The article quotes Jerry DeWitt, spokesman for the Sustainable Agriculture Network program of the U.S. Department of Agriculture T here are probably over 600 definitions of 'sustainable' it then states that the most widely accepted definition is three-pronged products that are made in a way that is (i) profitable, (ii) environmentally sound, and (iii) beneficial for local communities. The article also asks the question How Local is Local

What does social learning look like

These examples could also be interpreted in other ways, for instance as managing water resources sustainably or sustainable agriculture. Social learning and environmental responsibility can be related to many different kinds of activity. In both of the above cases, dynamic processes of multi-stakeholder, multilevel and collective learning were facilitated in ways that valued different kinds of knowledge and understanding. This kind of social learning approach is different from other regulatory, educational or market instruments of policy or governance that can be

Pesticides and Food Safety

These adverse effects of pesticides on humans and wildlife have resulted in research into ways of reducing pesticide use. The most important of these is the concept of integrated pest management (IPM), first introduced in 1959. This combines minimal use of the least harmful pesticides, integrated with biological and cultural methods of minimizing pest losses. It is linked with using pesticides only when threshold levels of pest attacks have been identified. There is also a move toward sustainable agriculture which aims to minimize use of pesticides and fertilizers based on a systems approach. SEE also Agriculture Bioaccumulation Carson, Rachel DDT (Dichloro-diphenyl trichloroethane) Endocrine Disruption Integrated Pest Management Persistent Bioaccumulative and Toxic Chemicals (PBTs) Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) WAter Pollution.

Human Factors Of Farming And Food Production

Recognition that today's farming practices have serious implications for tomorrow's environment has led to the promotion of sustainable agriculture (Reganold, Papendick, & Parr, 1990). The term is used in the literature in a variety of ways, relating to such issues as the biophysical limits for agriculture, sustainability of agricultural output levels, supportability of population levels, capacity of agricultural producers to stay in business, and intergenerational equity (the meeting of present needs without creating inequitable burdens for future generations Brklacich, Bryant, & Smit, 1991). These are complex issues, and more attention from psychologists to farming will not resolve them such attention should not hurt, however, and it might help considerably in finding ways to make farming not only more efficient in the short run, but less environmentally costly and more sustainable for the long term.

Sustainability of what for whom and why

As we said at the start of the previous chapter sustainability, like biodiversity, has become one of the key goals of environmental policy. Like biodiversity, almost everyone is in favour of it. While the concept of sustainability began its life in the context of sustainable agriculture and sustainable ecological systems, since the publication of what is known as the Brundtland Report it has been used more widely, especially in the context of sustainable economic development. The 'Brundtland' formulation, taken from the 1987 report of the World Commission on Environment and Development, chaired by Gro Harlem Brundtland, states 'Sustainable development is development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs' (World Commission on Environment and Development 1987). The report

Pollution Prevention Act of USC et seq

Pollution prevention also includes other practices that increase efficiency in the use of energy, water or other natural resources, and protect our resource base through conservation. Practices include recycling, source reduction, and sustainable agriculture (EPA, 1997).

Locke And The Price Of Land

In 2004, a typical acre of fertile soil in the American heartland sold at the average price of 1,780, at least a quarter of which can be attributed to the distorting effect of subsidies, according to USDA figures.32 Farmers who are paid - as a way to control surplus - not to grow crops bid up the price of land where not to grow them. Without these distortions, the prices of (or rentals for) cropland land in the United States would constitute about one-tenth of the farmer's expenses and thus less than 2 percent of the price of food. This is consistent with Locke's calculation that only one part in a hundred of the prices of agricultural products can be credited to the natural properties of the land, while 99 percent must be credited to labor and the tools it applies. Today, an acre of farmland commands the very highest price if it can be taken out of row crops and planted instead to shopping malls and condominiums. According to the USDA, survey data indicated that agricultural land...

Approaches to Reduce Environmental Impacts of Lost Nitrogen

In order to keep pace with a still-rapidly increasing human population, fertilizer use will continue to grow as food production does (Zhu et al. 2005). Sustainable development in food production is especially critical for the region because the needs for food are urgent. As arable land is restricted, production can only be increased by increasing the efficiency of the farming system. Fertilizer nitrogen use efficiency must be improved, and

Notes on Contributors

Boys is British, but for over 30 years has lived in Japan, where he studied the modernization of China's agriculture at Tsukuba University and worked at a number of universities in the Kanto area. He is currently a guest lecturer at Tohoku University Graduate School of Agricultural Science (Sendai) where he teaches one course in food and energy. He has been a regular contributor to Japanese academic journals on the subject of energy and agriculture. He is currently resident in Chiang Mai, Thailand (2007), to research the rotational swidden farming system of the Karen people and to add fluency in the Thai and Karen languages to his already fluent Japanese.

How Can Soil Erosion Be Stopped

The worst farming practices use up eight inches of topsoil (which took 7,000 years to create) in 36 years. The best practices would make that eight inches last 2,224 years. When new crops are ready to be planted using conventional agriculture, the remains of last year's crop are plowed into the soil, exposing a bare soil surface. Then the bare soil surface is broken up to make a smooth bed for seeds. Finally, after the seeds are planted the soil between the rows is stirred to rip out weeds. Thus, the topsoil is repeatedly worked over, granulated into tiny fragments, and any existing soil-holding roots from the previous crop are destroyed. The soil is left unprotected until the new seeds germinate and develop roots, which takes several months. The soil is not protected from being carried away by rainwater during the spring rains. Standard cultivation practices increase soil erosion by a staggering 10 to100-fold.

Eating Green Its Not Just Spinach Anymore

Today, Mom's old advice has gotten an update Eat everything green every day. You don't have to become a vegetarian (although, as page 182 notes, you'd reduce your carbon footprint if you did). Eating green means saying no to farming practices that harm the earth and treat animals as assembly-line products choosing foods that aren't drenched with synthetic insecticides, weed-killers, and other potentially harmful chemicals and, if possible, growing your own fruits and veggies to get the freshest, healthiest food possible. This chapter looks at current farming practices the good, the bad, and the unappetizing and how they affect the food you eat so you can make informed choices. You'll also learn all kinds of tips for growing your own food even if you're a city dweller.

Mitigation and Sequestration

During farming practices, carbon inputs to soil can be increased by three major methods (1) using crop rotations with high-residue yields, (2) reducing or eliminating the fallow period between successive crops in annual crop rotations, and (3) by using fertilizer efficiently.

Cynicism Ethics and politics

Navdanya movement participatory research initiative set up in 1991 to counter corporate control over farming practices. Though not directly related to Narmada dams, Navdanya nurtures practices other than monocrop industrial agriculture promoted as part of large-scale dam projects.

Dust storms and environmental change

Dust storms may also be affected (in their frequency and intensity) by environmental change, for example climatic change, altered farming practices or lake bed exposure. Increases in the frequency and intensity of dust storms at any location can occur either by changes to the nature of the land surface or by changes to the climate (McTainsh and Lynch, 1996), namely increased windiness, reduced precipitation or increased temperature (which, together with windiness, increases evaporation). Goudie and Middleton (1992) examined meteorological records to determine dust storm frequency variations over the past few decades for a large number of areas worldwide. They found upward trends in some areas (e.g. West Africa), downward trends in others (e.g. Mexico City), and cyclical variations in yet others. In many cases dust storm frequency has been governed by climatic variations, with runs of drought years being an important factor, as in the 1930s Dust Bowl in the United States. In some...

The Neglected Pollutants

One other pollutant must be considered. This is fixed nitrogen, nitrogen not in the atmosphere, which occurs as solid and liquid compounds. We generate a large amount of fixed nitrogen on purpose, as ammonia and its derivates. These compounds are used for fertilizer. This nitrogen is essential for the biosphere but we make too much and allow too much to leak away into the environment at large. The excess and leakage are becoming a problem. 63 Fossil fuel combustion adds some of these nitrogen compounds to the atmosphere. As mentioned above regarding acid rain, when combustion takes place at very high temperatures (above 2500 Kelvin) some nitrogen from the air is oxidized to nitrogen oxides. The energy plan proposed in An End To Global Warming will reduce the amount of high temperature combustion and as a result will reduce the amount of nitrogen contributed from energy generations. This will, in turn, ameliorate, but not end, the problem of excess nitrogen. To completely control the...

Understanding unsustainable consumption

Global consumption patterns are becoming a topic of increasing concern for politicians, environmentalists and social activists concerned with sustainability. It has become a much-quoted truism that consumption behaviour in developed countries must shift towards a more sustainable form, in order to address the enormous inequalities between rich and poor countries, while respecting environmental limits (UNCED, 1992 WCED, 1987 DETR, 1999). The 1998 Human Development Report describes the gross inequality of consumption patterns across the globe, and notes that while per capita consumption in industrialised countries has risen steadily, at an average of 2.3 annually, over the last 25 years, in Africa, household consumption is actually 25 less than 25 years ago. On a global scale, the 20 of the world's population in the richest industrialised countries accounts for 86 of the world's consumption (measured as private expenditure), while the world's poorest 20 have only 1.3 . The burning of...

Modeling the earths climate

One of the main goals of the researchers is to be able to anticipate the effect climate change will have on society and the environment. Although they are involved with several types of models, they are currently focusing most on global climate models (GCMs). These are large-scale models with the ability to simulate the entire Earth and all the forces that affect it, both human-induced and natural. For example, natural forces include volcanic eruptions, variations in insolation (incoming solar radiation), and changes in the Earth's orbital path. Human-induced forces include pollution (increasing greenhouse gases from burning fossil fuels), adding aerosols to the atmosphere, ozone depletion, some types of farming practices, and deforestation.

Major League Baseban Bats May Be Victims of Warming

The cuckoo is one of the most amazing birds you can come across in Britain, but it is declining by a staggering amount and we are getting reports from across the country that people just aren't hearing it any more, Marley said. Other theories for the 30-year slump in Cuckoo populations include habitat loss and the spread of intensive farming practices. At its wintering places in Africa, Cuckoos may also be suffering from indiscriminate use of agricultural chemicals as well as widespread drought (Smith, 2002).

Worlds Leading Source of Soybeans

Initially, production growth was concentrated in the traditional farming regions in the south the states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina, Paran , and Sao Paulo but after 1990 it began to spread rapidly into the cerrado. (See Figure 9-1.) Cerrado soils are highly acidic, saturated with aluminum, and low in phosphorus, with a Brazil's national agricultural research network, EMBRAPA, has worked hard and successfully to adapt temperate-zone soybean varieties to Brazil's subtropical growing conditions. Reflecting its success, the soybean yield per hectare in Brazil today has edged above that in the United States, long the world leader.15

The Roots of Migration

As part of the condition for joining NAFTA, Mexico was required to drastically change its Constitution and abandon the traditional ejido system of communal land and resource ownership. This is the system created after the Mexican Revolution of the early 20th century that made traditional farming in Mexico productive and viable. Mexico was also forced to dismantle a system that had provided a guaranteed floor price for corn for Mexican farmers, which had sustained over 3 million corn producers. As a result of NAFTA, Mexican farmers suddenly found themselves competing with an influx of cheap agricultural commodities produced by large-scale, heavily subsidized U.S. producers. Corn imports from the North grew 17-fold between 1993 and 2001 and accounted for 25 percent of Mexican corn consumption. This compared to a pre-NAFTA figure of 2 percent.5 Within a year of NAFTA's passage, Mexican production of corn and other basic grains fell by 50 percent, and millions of peasant farmers lost a...

The Mirage of Market Access

Some developing country governments, along with many global civil society groups, argue that southern countries must have market access, as promised, to level the playing field. But others believe that the entire export model is doomed because it moves production away from basic self-sufficient traditional farming, making all farmers vulnerable to the whims of the global marketplace which is increasingly controlled by mammoth corporations. Many believe that food security is best achieved by growing diverse crops locally for local consumption, instead of relying on food imports.

Agriculture Chemicals Are Derived From Fossil Fuels

Today, more modern and less harmful pesticides, such as Malathion and Cyfluthrin, are produced from similar hydrocarbon chemicals. These pesticides reduce insect damage to crops and thus contribute to both the quantity and quality of food and reduce its cost. Growth regulating herbicides such as 2,4,D (2,4,-dichlorophenoxy acetic acid) are hydrocarbon-derived chemicals used to increase crop production by the control of competition from weeds. Hydrocarbon derived chemicals contribute heavily to the productivity of modern farming methods.

Sewage Animal Waste and Fertilizers

A classic example of eutrophication and its treatment occurred in the estuary of the River Thames, near London, England. In the 1950s the water was severely hypoxic for thirty-five kilometers (twenty-two miles) below London Bridge. After several sewage treatment plants were built, the water returned to a well-oxygenated state and migratory fish such as salmon once again ascend the river. In the case of the Mississippi River, treatment of the eutrophication is more difficult because runoff from agricultural land is the major cause of the problem, and more than half of the agricultural land in the United States drains into the Mississippi basin. Cleaning up the pollution would involve changes in farming methods on a national scale.

Farmers Markets and CSAs

Localized agriculture for all practical purposes requires the revitalization of farmers markets. Farmers markets allow farmers to reconnect to local communities, and allow residents to reconnect to the source of their food. They also cut the middleman out of the food system, which is where the profits of commercial agriculture have been increasingly concentrated over the past century.

Political Economy and Political Ecology

The entry of peripheral and semi-peripheral countries into world markets leads to poverty and population growth, and to unsustainable land-use change (Rudel 1989). The decline of traditional subsistence agriculture and its entry into world economic markets from a disadvantaged position lead to poverty among the populations of developing countries. This poverty leads to population growth as children represent a net (economic) benefit to families in the absence of mandatory education and child labor laws. The entry into world economic markets simultaneously causes conversion of land from forest and traditional agriculture to commercial agriculture by increasing the value of land for agriculture and introducing capital-intensive methods of cultivation. The transition from traditional to commercial agriculture in early developing regions of a country leads also to the dislocation of farmers from traditional employment and modes of living (Sassen 1988 Massey et al. 1993). This population...

Geneticallymodified organisms

The first two directives - 90 219 on the contained use of GMOs, and 90 220 on the release into the environment of GMOs - were adopted in April 1990. The former covers all activities relating to GMOs and their routine release as wastes or in airborne emissions, and their accidental release, while the latter requires environmental evaluation and approval for the deliberate release of GMOs. In 1997, the issue became a matter of wider public debate when the Commission adopted a proposal for a uniform approach to the labelling of genetically-modified products. EU law means that marketing consent for the release of GMO products takes at least one to two years as of 1999, none had been approved unanimously (EEA, 1999, p. 11). The EU record stands in notable contrast to that of the United States, where genetic modification has been a part of commercial agriculture for some years. European public opinion is in favour of a moratorium on the approval and marketing of GM crops in order to allow...

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