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 also settled farmers who cropped a large proportion of their diet, mainly maize and cassava supplemented with sweetpotato, squash, beans, peanuts and fruits such as guayaba, guanabana and pineapple. Cassava in particular played an important role: the bitter variety was grated, leeched and toasted on ceramic griddles to produce a bread known as casabe. This bread, a central part of the diet, could be stored for long periods of time without spoiling. Religious ceremonies focused around cassava production and the provider of cassava or Yucahu. The Tainos possessed a good knowledge of ecological aspects of agriculture. For example, they used assemblages of species with different growth patterns so as to minimize competition for soil and moisture resources - often on elevated mounds or conucus - and they also used nitrogen-fixing legumes to enhance soil fertility. They practised slash-and-burn agriculture, which, given the low population density, was relatively sustainable. They eventually fell victim to European colonizers, and little record was left of their cultural history, although remnants of their existence, and descendants, can still be found in Cuba (Rosset and Benjamin, 1994; Weeks and Ferbel, 1994).

0 0

Post a comment