A real life adventure in urban and peri-urban agriculture, permaculture and farmers' cooperatives was undertaken when Green Tallahassee visited Cuba in April and May of 2014. [see photos in the post below.]
Excerpts from Urban and Peri-Urban Agriculture by Growing Greener Cities.
Read the entire article at: http://www.fao.org/ag/agp/greenercities/en/GGCLAC/havana.html
The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 deprived Cuba of its main trading partner and source of fossil fuel. That ushered in what Cubans call the período especial, an extended economic crisis which led to food rationing and rising rates of malnutrition. With agriculture affected by shortages of fuel and of two key petroleum derivatives – mineral fertilizer and pesticide – Havana residents began planting food crops wherever space was available.
At first, yields were low, owing to lack of farming experience and inputs. But with strong government support, urban agriculture was rapidly transformed from a spontaneous response to food insecurity to a national priority. In the process, Havana has added a new word, organoponics, to the urban agriculture vocabulary, and has become a pioneer in a worldwide transition to sustainable agriculture that produces “more with less”.
Crop and animal production is recognized as a legitimate land use in the city’s strategic plan, which allows agriculture in areas where construction is not foreseen, while its Land and Urban Management Scheme of 2013 sees peripheral areas as highly suitable for agriculture. UPA is supported by a Technical Advisory Board, representing 11 agricultural research institutes, by a network of agricultural supply stores, municipal seed farms, composting units, veterinary clinics and centres for the reproduction of biological pest control agents, and by the city’s College of Urban and Suburban Agriculture, which coordinates the training of producers and technicians, and helps to introduce new technologies, crop varieties and animal breeds.
Although organopónicos have become emblematic of agriculture in Havana, the city has developed other high-yielding production systems. It has 318 intensive gardens planted directly in the soil, and 38 ha of semi-protected gardens under awnings in soil enriched with vermicompost.
The city’s urban and peri-urban agriculture sector includes five agricultural enterprises, which manage some 700 crop farms, 170 cattle farms and 27 tree production units, two provincial companies specializing in pig and livestock production, 29 agricultural cooperatives, and 91 credit and service cooperatives that grow flowers and vegetables and raise small animals.