Organopónicos, urban agriculture in Havana (Cuba)

Posted on February 16, 2008

Ravi Gulati of Manzil was in Bangalore for the last few days. I ran into him at the school! He had been visiting Arvind and Shabnam. He had time in the afternoon and we sat in the old campus. Murli anna was luckily passing by and I could get coffees for both of us.

He told me of the huge urban farming/effort which started in Havana (and other parts of Cuba) in the early 90s. With the collapse of the Soviet Union, Cuba had a huge food problem as it depended on USSR for most of its supplies of chemical fertilizers, food imports and most importantly, oil. With the scarce supply of oil, the transportation of food from the villages to the cities was becoming impossible and expensive.

The country then resorted to massive government supported community farming. Masses of land were available for free as long as they were used for growing food. Cheap and environment friendly organic farming techniques were used. Hydroponic techniques were also used extensively. In my initial reading of information available on the Internet (I am trying to get the film, “The Power of Community” watched it), I was very excited to read that in Havana farms are found in “vacant lots, old parking lots, abandoned building sites, spaces between roads.”

Image from http://www.pfi.iastate.edu/Cuba/Morton_7_Urban_Agriculture_Feeds_6_Pct_of_Cuba_color.jpg

(Image source/credit)

Food is grown in these farms by employees of the ministry of agriculture as well as volunteers and dedicated farmers. The effort is very successful in producing large quantities of food and making it available without the huge oil cost involved.

A deeper reading of the techniques and methods used by cubans would help me a lot in my attempts with PetPuja.

Some suggestions for further reading:

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