Petroleumdependent agriculture and food systems

In the 20th century, oil and gas took over from the waning extraction of cheap coal reserves, as the drivers of growth of industry, trade, transport and agriculture in industrialized countries. Coal had already had a major impact on the agricultural sector in the 19th century, enabling a shift from hand and animal-drawn power to stronger equipment made of iron and steel, to steam-engine powered field machinery, and to more suitable means of transport (railways and steamships). This transport...

The significance of continued petrol and agrochemical use

Petrol and agrochemical input distribution and usage was uneven between regions, farms and crops, and this created a national patchwork effect of more and less intensive production. Although this pattern was caused largely by resource constraints, it was also affected by production plans, by urban and peri-urban organic production, by areas where a local variety was particularly robust or a particular organic input easily available, or by innovative individuals and institutional programmes. For...

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...

The food production system up to Pre Columbian food production

Cuba's agricultural history has been one of colonialization. The original inhabitants of Cuba, the Guanahatabeyes, are believed to have arrived there about 10,000 years ago from North America and were primarily fisherfolk and gatherers. These were joined, 4500 years ago, by migrants from South America known as Ciboneyes. They maintained their traditional lifestyles until the arrival of the Taino tribe, an offshoot of the Arawaks from South America, 1500 years ago. The Taino were hunters but...

The reported response to the crisis

In 1990, the state declared the start of a 'Special Period in Peace Time', a self-imposed state of emergency which urged the need for sacrifices in living standards, including an acceptance of insufficient food supplies, in order to buy the country time to build up its levels of self-sufficiency and particularly to meet basic food requirements (Rosset and Moore, 1997).6 Within this framework, the agricultural sector was tasked with finding solutions to production problems, and to do so using...

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...

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 Rural life in Cuba is not the litany of misery it is for campesinos in so many Latin American countries. Cuban farmers can count on rural institutions...

A snapshot of the Cuban experience in the s

The story of the way in which Cuba developed a post-petroleum food system has endured into the 21st century (see for example, Oppenheim, 2001 Hamilton, 2003 Snyder, 2003 Handscombe and Handscombe, 2004). In fact, in the latter half of the 2000s, Cuba was still heralded as the chief example of success in the debate around peak oil and the development of more sustainable alternatives (see, for example, Pretty, 2005 Hopkins, 2006 Pfeiffer, 2006 Heinberg 2007 Sligh and Christman, 2007). Yet there...

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,...

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...

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 terms of both content and methodology. Extension services were historically well developed they included not only prescriptive advice and instruction from research and extension agents to farmers, but also the use of national media channels to disseminate farming news and techniques. In the late 1990s, television was broadcasting a weekly...

Institutional support for urban agriculture

The support system for urban agriculture, along with the production system it served, was seen by many in the 1990s as the potential vanguard for a nationwide organic agricultural system. The sector was regulated and directed by the National Urban Agriculture Group (GNAU), comprising individuals from scientific and government institutions as well as urban farmers, and covering 26 sub-programmes (GNAU, 2000). Objectives and targets for these sub-programmes, which were for implementation...

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...

Creation of free farmers markets and private food businesses

In order to further reduce the power of the black market, and also to stimulate production and increase efficiency, to complement the ration, and to increase access to fresh produce, legislation was passed in September 1994 to permit 'free' farmers' markets for the sale of food surplus to the ration. Within two weeks, 121 such markets had been established all over the country, organized by MINCIN. The speed of execution showed what was possible when political will aligned with farmers' needs,...

Trends in domestic agriculture and food supplies

State investment in agriculture rose by 44 per cent from 5.9 million in 2001 to 13 million in 2006. Within this, sugarcane production fell to one-third of previous levels, and shifted from state to private production. The land given over to sugarcane, which had amounted to 1.3 million ha in the early 1980s, had remained fairly constant during the 1990s, but at around 1998 started to fall dramatically to only 397,000ha by 2006. Yields fell by more than half. For other crops, productive areas...

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...

Humanitarian development aid and political agendas

Humanitarian aid also played a vital role in ensuring food availability during the 1990s. In 1995, 17 million of food aid was received (Castro, 1996), and by the late 1990s humanitarian assistance (including medical aid) was valued at 1 billion (Garfield, 1999). The FAO remained active in technical cooperation, while Oxfam America supported Cuban farmers as a humanitarian response to the food crisis. The delivery of such assistance, and other forms of development cooperation, encountered...

Facilitating change to localized systems

Whether because of a sudden crisis or a planned transition, people have to cope - that is, they make relevant adaptations to the environment as they perceive it. This coping may be passive, active or creative (Huang, 1998). Coping with an energy crisis, for example, may take the form of ignoring it or, at the other extreme, completely reorganizing the whole system. The basic coping process is one of learning, a cycle of observation, of understanding what has been observed, of thinking and...

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...

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...

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...

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...

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...

The policy dilemma increased yields or longerterm sustainability

The main aims of Cuban agriculture in the 1990s - to increase yields and increase sustainability - were somewhat at odds with each other. The state had been planning some sustainable reorientation of production prior to 1989, with, for example, the establishment of the National Food and Nutrition Programme and the experimentation with farmers' markets. However, it was only after the depletion of buffering reserves in the early 1990s that major action was taken. Rather than a shift in collective...

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...

Successful state backing

The advantages of, and rationale for, supporting urban agriculture quickly became clear. Urban centres had the highest demand for foodstuffs, especially perishables that were difficult to transport. Such produce - vegetables, fruit, flowers, spices and small livestock - required a high labour input that was readily available in the cities. Further, city wastelands and neglected areas were otherwise becoming breeding grounds for disease (Companioni et al, 2002). The state recognized the...

The ration system and social security

The Social Security System (which comprised assistance for the most vulnerable, specifically old people, disabled people, single mothers, children and youth) and the ration system had been established in 1979 and 1962 respectively, and provided a solid food security structure during the challenging years of the early 1990s. During this period, this equitable form of food distribution and controlled sale, or canasta basica, was the only market that the state was able to maintain. An increasing...

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...

Quantity incentive quality incentive

Food quantities were still unstable, and price and quantity were the most important factors in the market place. The majority of crops that fed into the 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...

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...

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...

Recognition of campesino production

Throughout the Special Period, the campesino sector had proven its resilience through recourse to traditional practices and sufficient autonomy to innovate (as well as its stockpiling of inputs). Institutions recognized the significance of campesino production, and that campesino farmers had the capacity not only to innovate but also to evaluate and accept or reject technologies. Some found it hard to envisage that smallholder agriculture could form the basis for a self-reliant national food...

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 Figure 3.2 Map showing the main study areas across three provinces of Cuba Source Wriaht, 2005 Figure 3.2 Map showing the main...

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...

Change in farmgate prices and markets

In the 1990s, changes were made to the system of planned production for the ration, operated by Acopio. Traditionally, the state collected an agreed quantity of produce from each farm or cooperative, at an agreed, low price. Changes 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...

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,...

An ineffective food system

The aim of any food system, one might suppose, would be to feed people with an adequate, or even abundant, supply of nutritious foods. As it happens, this is a human right. As with previous agricultural innovations throughout the centuries, industrial agriculture - and its tropical counterpart, the Green Revolution - has produced significant yield increases. Between 1950 and 1984, world grain production increased by 250 per cent (Kindell and Pimentel, 1994). Yet the industrial food system has...

Characteristics of a postpetroleum food and farming system localized and organic

What would a farming and food system look like, one that is both based on renewable energy and is more energy efficient, one that might be in operation in Cuba If it is to deliver on food needs, the changes in energy source and quantity would necessitate the scaling-up of more localized and organic systems. The concept of localization is characterized by community self-reliance as far as practicable, diversified local economies, and living in harmony with nature (Schuman, 2000 Norberg-Hodge,...

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...

Degradation of the natural resource base

There is little contestation over the degradation of the natural resource base. Industrial practices result in vast tracts of degraded land, yield declines, loss of plant and animal species diversity, increase in susceptibility to disease, and other serious side-effects over the medium to long term, and have led to a loss of livelihoods (Tansey and Worsley, 1995 FAO, 1997 Conway, 1998 Pingali and Rosegrant, 1998 Oldeman, 1999 Sustain, 2003 Hole et al, 2005). This is particularly so for marginal...

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...

Pest and disease control coping strategies

As well as chemical controls, almost all farmers were using or had used a range of other pest and disease control methods. These methods included selecting resistant crop varieties where possible, using natural weather patterns to disrupt pest lifestyles, applying the natural pest control Bacillus thuringiensis (Bt)2 and rotating crops. Biological control products came from the CREEs. A large number were also applying other biological pest controls, and using a mixture of simple, good...

The inevitable decline in fossil fuels and transition to alternatives

Cuba has pre-empted what many industrial countries will experience. By their finite nature, there is no debate over whether fossil fuels - oil, gas and coal -will run out, but rather when this will occur, whether alternative energy supplies will meet the ever-increasing demand, and how best to oversee such a transition. Hubbert, the father of the peak oil concept, predicted that US oil production would peak approximately 30 years after the peak of oil discovery (Hubbert, 1956). He was proved to...

Cubas challenges the health imperative

Despite the sustained increases in production and food availability, ten years was too short a period to rebalance the substantial deficit in supply or to end the dependency on imported foodstuffs. The new UBPC cooperatives confronted several teething problems in their development, and cooperatives in general lacked training in the new types of marketing channels on offer. Owing to the paternal legacy, as well as to the substitutive nature of industrial agriculture, farmers continued to look...

The Cuban food system in crisis

Ever since its Socialist Revolution of 1959, Cuba has maintained restricted and selective contact with non-socialist countries. From an international perspective, this has resulted in a relative dearth of knowledge on all aspects of Cuban life, and a heavy reliance on anecdotal evidence. Nevertheless, there was no doubt that the dissolution of the Socialist Bloc of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe in 1989 had brought an abrupt end to the support it had provided Cuba, and with this went the...

Glossary and translations

Agro-ecology the scientific basis of alternative agriculture, synonymous in some circles with collective social action on the eco-management of the natural resource base common usage in Latin America bagasse fibre remaining after the extraction of the sugar-bearing juice from sugarcane cachaza sugarcane waste campesinos traditional, peasant, small-scale, autonomous farmers canasta basica basic state ration comercio retail trade network minorista consejos People's Councils industrialized farming...

The further industrialization of Cuban agriculture

Given the hierarchical structure of pre-Revolution agriculture, Cuba found itself with few agronomists or technical specialists, most of them having fled the country. Traditional farmers still existed, but the prevailing political outlook placed greater trust in science and technology than local knowledge, and so Cuba developed a national agricultural system using imported technical expertise mainly from Eastern European countries. This led to the development of modernized, large-scale systems...

References

A. 1993 'The implications of Cuba's agricultural conversion for the general Latin American Agroecological Movement', Agriculture and Human Values, vol 10, no 3 Summer 1993 , pp91-92 Altieri, M. A., Rosset, P. and Thrupp, L. A. 2000 The Potential of Agroecology to Combat Hunger in the Developing World. www.cnr.berkeley.edu agroeco3 accessed in August 2008 Alvarez, J. 1994 Cuba's Infrastructure Profile, International Working Paper Series IW94-4, July 1994. Food and Resources Economics...

References About Global Warming In Agriculture Sector

Adams, S., Langton, A. and Plackett, C. 2007 'Energy use in agriculture and horticulture moving to a low carbon economy', The Commercial Grower 9 August . accessed August 2008 Adriaansen-Tennekes, R., Bloksma, J., Huber, M. A. S., de Wit, J., Baars, E. W. and Baars, T. 2005 Organic Products and Health. Results of Milk Research 2005, The Netherlands, Louis Bolk Instituut Publications GVV06 Alfv n, T., Braun-Fahlander, C., Brunekreef, B., von Mutius, E., Riedler, J., Scheynius, A., van Hage, M.,...

Farmers experiential evidence on the performance of organic agriculture

Farmers were clearly aware of the benefits as well as the negative impacts of the decrease in agrochemical use benefits to their own health as well as that of the soil, to livestock and the natural environment. Since agrochemical use had been limited, incidences of poisonings, allergies and skin diseases had disappeared. According to one CPA farmer, 'Those who work in fumigation can only work for five years maximum in that job and then have to change, because of illness - vomiting, nausea and...

Subsequent trends and challenges to the food system

The overall impact of all these changes was dramatic, according to one of the few contemporary accounts available, that of Oliveros Blet et al 1998 at the Faculty of Geography of the University of Havana. Food supply increased, and the influence of the black market was diminished, with black market prices falling by some 40 per cent. Urban agriculture also made a significant impact by providing competition to the farmers' markets so that prices in these markets decreased by 30 per cent between...

Impact on food security

The state maintained its investment in urban agriculture for several reasons the high food demand in the cities, the relatively high free-market price of fresh vegetables, the need to make nutritional improvements to the basic Cuban diet, the possibility of selling direct to the consumer from the farm gate and thus overcoming postharvest losses and transport restrictions, and the potential for employment creation in urban areas Wilson and Harris, 1996 . The income from urban agriculture was...

Scientific evidence on the performance of organic agriculture

Economic evaluations of organic production were indicating substantial cost benefits. Early evaluation of the CREEs showed the production costs of the cottage-industry manufacturing of biological pest and disease controls to be less than 1 per cent that of importing agrochemicals to do the same job, and the money spent stayed in Cuba and helped build up the local economy Maura, 1994 . The use of green manures was found to save 31 to 75 per hectare 623 to 1503 Cuban pesos , depending on the...

Changes in dietary habits and the return ofWestern disease

The basic Cuban campesino diet comprised rice, beans, roots and tubers, meat and some salad. Regional variations existed less processed food and more traditional roots, milk, meat and rum were consumed to the west of the island more fried roots and tubers in the centre and more rice and soups 'slave food' to the east Nu ez Gonzalez and Gonzalez Noriega, 1995 . As a response to the crisis, people were encouraged to consume vegetable-based foods instead of animal protein. Since 1994, food...

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...