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The current financial and fuel crises threaten food security in poorer nations and among the poor in wealthier countries. Sustainable food production benefits communities and their food supply and can maintain farming systems in less developed agricultural regions. Many small farmers have long practiced organic agriculture, but face pressure to adopt green revolution farming, using chemicals and commercial seed. Some are resisting this, but lack the technology to apply organic methods on a larger scale. Cuba provides an instructive example of a nation that confronted a sudden food and fuel crisis by adopting organic agricultural technologies across production systems that vary tremendously in size and social organization. The agroecological revolution in Cuba evolved in the extreme conditions following the fall of the Soviet Union. Before this, Cuban agriculture was industrial, exporting cash crops and importing most human and animal foods. Almost overnight, Cuba was without agrichemicals, animal feed or fuel and was forced to switch to alternative methods using pest biocontrol, biofertilizers and animal traction. Cities now produce quantities of organic vegetables for the large urban population. Alternative methods are now widespread and have regional support systems, involving specialized centers and a network of farmers’ associations and co-operatives. Local production systems play a notable role in building a sense of community. Despite these advances, Cuba continues to import much of its food and still faces significant challenges to food self-sufficiency.

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Report of the Organic Farming and Sustainable Agriculture Research and Fact-Finding Delegation to Cuba, May 4-12, 2006, organized by Desarrollo Alternative, AC, Mexico. This article was prepared for the Desarrollo Alternativeo (DESAL), Mexico web site; that web site is no longer available.

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