If you love Cuba so much…

Want to know what a sustainable climate-change-proof agricultural system might look like? Here’s an example from Cuba, in an academic paper written by my friend, comrade, and former boss, Peter Rosset, together with folk from Cuba’s peasant agriculture movement. The article’s free to download (for now), but the key parts from the abstract are:

Our key findings are (i) the spread of agroecology was rapid and successful largely due to the social process methodology and social movement dynamics, (ii) farming practices evolved over time and contributed to significantly increased relative and absolute production by the peasant sector, and (iii) those practices resulted in additional benefits including resilience to climate change.

Admittedly, there’s a bit more jargon here than I’d like, but the short of it is that there wasn’t a governmental grand plan to make sustainable agriculture flourish so much as a network of peasants communicating, sharing, and innovating. Most important, tagroecology is successful in Cuba because peasants know how to organise.

This is a finding that’s important outside Cuba but, here’s the surprise, also important within – the Cuban government is still a refuge for Green Revolutionaries, for civil servants wedded to the same ideas of top-down, technocratic twentieth century agriculture celebrated by Big Agriculture outside Cuba. The punchline to Peter’s article is this: if the Cuban ministry of agriculture loves Cuba so much – especially in a time of greater climate uncertainty – it ought to support, not hinder, the demands of its most productive, sustainable and resilient peasants.

One Reply to “If you love Cuba so much…”

  1. I attended your lecture last evening at Franklin & Marshall College. My second question (after the one referring to Monsanto’s power) would have been, “How’s Cuba doing?” I’ve been reading Rosset’s 10-year-old on Sustainable Agriculture in Cuba, and am deeply inspired to advocate for this cause. It’s been difficult to find follow-up reports from foodfirst.
    I also would have liked to have time to tell you about a wonderful program in Lancaster called Dig-It Garden, founded by a small grassroots org, “Threshold Foundation”. Please find it online. A couple is teaching organic growing to troubled youth. They take the produce to senior housing communities and to poor neighborhoods, as well as the upscale “Central Market” and sell affordable fresh produce to people who are shopping at the corner Wawa. It’s a beautiful thing.
    Thanks for a great lecture.

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