Cuba: Organic Revolution & Evolution

Upcoming Tour Dates:

June 16th, 2017 – June 25, 2017

November 10th, 2017 – November 19th, 2017

Co-sponsored by Food First and Altruvistas

Learn about Cuba from Cubans. This tour will show you the dramatic transition into agroecological farming practices and the institutions that made this shift possible. We will see firsthand what happens when national policy prioritizes organic farming and remediating hunger.

The Cuban revolution in 1959 brought sweeping land reforms and social programs aimed at eradicating rural poverty. However, agricultural policies were deeply influenced by the global trend toward industrial agriculture known 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 was also apparent in the form of large-scale deforestation and soil erosion.

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 address the crisis that befell Cuba in 1989. With the collapse of the Soviet Union came an abrupt end to Cuba’s primary trade relationship. Its access to agricultural inputs ended overnight, 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 could not be praised enough. The dedication of the urban gardeners and their evolving expertise was an inspiration, the discussions with farmers and cooperative leaders were outstanding, and the artist’s community outreach and farming projects were fabulous to share.  – Jeanne Koopman, 2012 Cuba Tour participant

Cuba fruit_cropped

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.  The transformation of Cuban agriculture was profound and swift in the early 1990s, yet it is an experiment that continues today in the countryside and cities alike. Looking to 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 east to Sancti Spiritus, Cienfuegos, and Matanzas to learn about the country’s struggle to take control of its food system in the face of global market exclusion. We partner with Altruvistas and the father of Cuban agroecology, Fernando Funes, to create a very full and fascinating itinerary. We will meet with farmers, professors, government representatives, and educators to learn about Cuba from Cubans.

A Changing Cuba:

As Cuba’s government increasingly opens up to a volatile international economic system, the nation is likely on the verge of dramatic social, economic, and political changes. It is not yet clear how these changes will affect the Cuban food system or the gains made by small farmers in sustainable agriculture and national food security. Whatever the course of these developments, they will undoubtedly bring new lessons and insights for the development of sustainable food systems worldwide. What is clear is that now is an important and fascinating time to visit, and we hope to bear witness  to the changes at hand and engage in deeper dialogue about these changes with you during our time in Cuba.

Tour highlights may include:

  • Discuss agroecology in Cuba with Fernando Funes (co-author of Food First’s book on Cuban Agriculture)
  • Visit the Antonio Núñez Jiménez Foundation for Nature and Man and visit community permaculture projects
  • Visit the Experimental Research Station Indio Hatuey
  • Visit the Food Conservation Project for a lecture on food conservation and sovereignty and healthy food
  • Discuss changes in US-Cuba relations and how they might affect the future of tourism and agriculture in Cuba
  • Meet with the National Association for Small Farmers (ANAP)
  • Visit a community agricultural education project
  • Meet with a variety of small farmers and farmers’ cooperatives
  • Participate in a block party with a CDR (Committee in Defense of the Revolution)
  • Visit Alamar, a beautiful cooperatively-run urban farm in Havana

Tour Cost: $2,975

*We are committed to fairly compensating everyone who contributes their labor, time and passion to enriching our delegations and making them run smoothly. A limited number of partial scholarships are available for eligible applicants on a first-come, first-served basis.

Price includes:

  • All in-country transportation during the tour including airport transfer to and from Havana airport
  • Three star hotel accommodations for 9 nights, double occupancy. Single room add $650.
  • 2 meals per day, plus bottled water to refill your water bottles
  • OFAC approved People to People License provided by Altruvistas
  • Food First trip leader
  • Local guides, drivers, guest speaker honorarium
  • Translation of all program activities into English
  • Preparatory reading materials (Cuba Tour Reader) and Tour Orientation Packet
  • All scheduled program activities, presentations and workshops
  • Food First membership for 1 year

Price will NOT include: Airfare to Miami; round-trip charter flight from Miami – Havana estimated at $450-$650 (we will purchase this on your behalf, cost includes airport taxes, tourist visa, and mandatory Cuban health insurance); one meal per day (usually a lunch or a dinner free for you to explore local cuisine); most beverages; tips; travel insurance; and personal expenses.

Food Sovereignty Tours Coordinator:

Cassidy Kropfl-Gonzales
Altruvistas
2175 La Mirada Drive
El Sobrante, California, USA 94803

Tel.  415. 735.5407
Cell. 415. 637.0215
journeys@altruvistas.com

 

More interesting information about our FST to Cuba

 

Some videos of Participants’ Reflections of our Food Sovereignty Tour to Cuba

Essay “The Land is our Life” By Leonor Hurtado

Ensayo “La Tierra es Nuestra Vida” por Leonor Hurtado

 

Cuba Campo