Jan. 3 – 12, 2014
The Cuban revolution in 1959 brought sweeping land reforms and social programs aimed at eradicating rural poverty. However, the agricultural policy was deeply influenced by the global trend toward industrial agriculture knows as the Green Revolution. The negative effects of the Green Revolution eventually began to show despite the social protections put in place by the Cuban government. In 1956, 56% of the population was rural. By the mid 1990s that number had dropped to just 20%. Ecological degradation also became apparent in the form of large-scale deforestation, erosion and loss of soil fertility.
With rising global fuel prices and increased awareness of the harm caused by industrial agriculture, Cuba began establishing research centers to focus on organic production in the 1970s. The gradual shift away from high input farming methods in the 70s and 80s, however, was insufficient to deal with the crisis that befell Cuba in 1989. The collapse of the Soviet Union cut off Cuba’s primary trade relationship and, thus its access to agricultural inputs, propelling Cuba into what is now known as the “Special Period.” Imports plummeted and hunger escalated. To combat the crisis, the nation embarked on a massive and rapid conversion to agroecological agriculture in an attempt to simultaneously reduce inputs (petroleum and agrochemicals) and boost food production.
This tour provides a general overview of Cuba’s agroecological transition and the institutions and resources put into place to make this dramatic shift possible. We will see firsthand what happens when national policy prioritizes organic farming. The transformation of Cuban agriculture was profound and fast in the early 1990s, however it is an experiment that continues today. Looking towards the future, this agricultural nation is in a time of transition and reform. We will meet with the Ministry of Agriculture to discuss what plans are in store for Cuba. We will also look at how the island’s next generation of farmers, policy makers, and consumers view the future of their food system.
Beginning in and around Havana, we will make our way west to the province of Pinar del Rio to learn firsthand about the country’s struggle to take control of its food system in the face of global market exclusion. We partner with one of the fathers of agroecology in Cuba, Fernando Funes and the Antonio Nuñez Jimenez Foundation for a very full 8-day itinerary. We will meet with farmers, professors, government representatives, and educators to hear about Cuba from Cubans.
- Visit to the Cuban Association of Agricultural and Forestry Tecnicians (ACTAF), discussion on Agroecology in Cuba with Fernando Funes (co-author of Food First’s book on Cuban Agriculture)
- Visit to “Antonio Núñez Jiménez” Foundation for Nature and Man. Community permaculture projects with Roberto Perez or Cary Cruz
- Visit to Food Conservation Project with “Vilda and Pepe”, Lecture on food conservation and sovereignty and healthy food.
- Meeting with Cuban Farmers’ Union (ANAP)
- Visit a community agricultural education project
- Visit and discussion with a variety of small farmers and farmers’ cooperatives
- Meeting with CDR (Committee in Defense of the Revolution)
- Visit Alamar cooperatively run urban garden
Sample itinerary coming soon
Price will include
- Three star hotel accommodations
- 2 meals per day
- Translation of all program activities into English
- All in-country transportation, including airport transfers
- Food First policy analyst on entire trip, all activities, local guides, guest speakers
- Price is based on double room accommodations; add $300 for single room
- Charter flight from Miami to Havana and back
- Does NOT include airfare to and from Miami, beverages, gratuities, travel insurance, personal expenditures, etc.
**This tour is for professionals in the food sector interested in research on the Cuban food system
Contact trip leader Zoe with any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org