On day 6 of our study tour, Thursday March 21, we are visiting UBPC Organopónico Vivero Alamar (eco-community and urban organic farm).
Unidad Básica de Producción Cooperativa (UBPC) is the agricultural cooperative in Cuba that came to life in the 1990’s as a governmental solution to the food insecurities and crisis that occurred after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1991, a period called the “special period”. This short film looks at organic farming in Cuba
UBPC Organopónico Vivero Alamar is an organic, sustainable farm in the Havana suburb Alamar. (http://pulitzercenter.org/projects/cuba-agricultural-sustainability-government-economy-organoponico-vivero-alamar).
It produces vegetables, fruits, plants, herbs, condiments, compost and more. These products are sold to the local community.
A small percentage of its production is given back to the Cuban government. While 30 % of the revenue goes back into the farm, the way the rest of the revenue is distributed to its workers is according to shares and hours worked. The longer they have been employed, the more shares they hold.
Workers on the farm make more than the average Cuban and other benefits in the co-op includes pensions, meals and work cloths, just to mention some.
This type of farming, Organoponicós, was necessary to cope with post-soviet era, as Cuba relied heavily on import of oil, chemical fertilizers and pesticides. It is said that Cubans experienced a “artificial peak oil crisis”, something that the rest of the world eventually will experience. The Cuban model of sustainable agriculture is now looked upon as a leading example of how it can be done with minimal use of fossil fuels. After the soviet union, Cubans went through a lifestyle change. They had to learn to use bicycles as a means for transportation, some of the agricultural changes involved using more manual labor and animals instead of machinery and organic farming methods that eliminated natural gas based fertilizers and oil-based pesticides, combination of crops and creating smaller farms. Today kiosks around the city provide Havana’s populations with fresh fruits and vegetables that came from the urban agriculture.