CUBA'S ORGANIC FARMING MIRACLE
CUBA'S ORGANIC FARMS
Cuba is an organic food lover’s dream, from bananas, tomatoes, and mangos, to potatoes, onions, beans, and garlic, they all smell and taste amazing on the island. You won’t find any of them in the few big stores or government run agricultural markets (agros) that are randomly located throughout Cuba. These organic crops are the ones you buy at the small privately owned agricultural markets, where most transactions take place in moneda nacional. They are grown by Cuba’s small farmers who have adapted to low input agriculture because the Cuban government does not offer them a way to improve or increase production. Fertilizer and pesticides are unavailable to almost all of Cuba’s privately produced crops, and this “failure” of the Cuban revolution has created an organic paradise in the Caribbean. Most small farmers in Cuba have not been able to obtain any artificial inputs like fertilizer or pesticides for decades, and most grow their crops organically by default, not by choice.
ORGANIC FARMS AROUND HAVANA
The small field in the accompanying photos covers four acres and is worked by a single farmer. Aside from the mangos and coconuts that the field produces, in bottom photo you can see yuca, corn, bananas, and black beans that have recently been planted by Reinaldo. This farm is in the outskirts of Havana and is typical of small, privately operated farms on the western end of the island. Unlike the larger cooperative farms that provide a large amount of food to Cuba’s markets, most of the crops raised on these farms are sold directly by the farmer to friends, neighbors, or sold to the owners of small stands that are nearby.
Though the organic fruits, vegetables, tubers and beans that are grown in Cuba are one more reason to love the island, it’s not so great for ordinary Cubans who sometimes can’t afford to buy many staples of the traditional Cuba diet, and the Cuban government, which must import a large portion of the tropical nation’s food. Cuba imports large quantities of sugar, coffee, and rice from Vietnam and Brazil, and apples and many processed foods from the good old United States.
By Frank Gonzalez
May 12, 2018