RTE Invited to Collaborative Between Growers in Cuba and the US – A New Chapter in Farmer to Farmer Networking
Organic farmland sits at the foot of Cuba’s mountainous landscape; about the size of New York State, Cuba is home to an array of diverse biomes and agricultural systems alike. (Source: The Cuban-U.S. Agroecology Network)
RTE Invited to Collaborative Between Growers in Cuba and the US
A New Chapter in Farmer to Farmer Networking
24 June 2015
“To permanently end poverty and hunger by 2030, the world needs a food system that can feed every person, every day, everywhere; that can raise real incomes of the poorest people; that can provide safe food and adequate nutrition; and that can better steward the world’s natural resources.”
The World Bank 2015
We are excited to announce that Remineralize the Earth has been invited to join the Cuban-U.S. Agroecology Network (CUSAN) by Greg Watson, Director for Policy and Systems Design at the Schumacher Center for New Economics. CUSAN is a partnership of the Schumacher Center for a New Economics and the Christopher Reynolds Foundation created to foster exchange and collaboration between Cuban and U.S. sustainable food system stakeholders.
Two Havana residents tend to organic crops at Organopónico Vivero Alamar, the capital’s largest and most successful agricultural cooperative. (Source: Scene from “Voices of Transition”, a film by Nils Aguilar. Used under CC permissions.)
With the collapse of the Soviet Bloc and its economic support in the early 1990’s, Cuba’s farmers faced the unprecedented challenge of creating agricultural management systems without dependence on conventional fertilizers or pesticides. By the end of the 20th century a new cooperative system of food production had emerged through a combination of innovative and traditional agricultural practices. Through these monumental efforts Cuba has developed a comprehensive system of organic agriculture unprecedented in its breadth and scale; it is the hope of the CUSAN’s farmers and partner organizations that this network’s stakeholders may educate one another and create new opportunities for the application of these practices.
A new economic paradigm has emerged with the historic decision by U.S. President Barack Obama and Cuban President Raúl Castro to lift the 50-year embargo between the two countries. While this new chapter in bilateral relations may provide urgently needed capital to the island, it also presents the risk of importing commodified agricultural practices that could displace both the assets of this farming community, and the environmental resources that it has so long protected. Unlike the recently founded U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba, CUSAN serves as a counterpoint to agribusiness multinational interests, rather its aim is to connect the individual agricultural stakeholders of the United States with their counterparts in Cuba to promote collaboration and an exchange of their unique knowledge in implementing and expanding upon their current agroecological practices.
As a member of this network Remineralize the Earth makes the commitment to advance agroecology in both countries and will participate in an active dialogue on sustainability with Cuba’s farmers, and work towards the research and application of mineral amendments in its diverse agroecological systems. CUSAN plans to lead two delegations to Cuba in the coming months: one this summer to meet with farmers, economists, and activists and another in the fall to take part in the annual meeting of the Cuban National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP). CUSAN envisions an in-person convening of the Network at some point early in 2016. Our team is looking forward to participating in this new initiative with the Schumacher Center, Christopher Reynolds Foundation, the Cuban National Association of Small Farmers, and a growing list of partners who will make this work possible!
You can learn more about the Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network (CUSAN) and its affiliates, from these websites–
Ken Lefebvre has a degree in Environmental Science and a Masters in Policy and Administration from the University of Massachusetts. He has been fortunate enough to work with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service as well as several agricultural extension labs, and was the 2013 recipient of the UMass Friends of the Library Undergraduate Research Award.