This is a series of deliberations about the politics behind popular market and the opportunities for successful organic agriculture markets as well as alternative markets …
It was the time when the Soviet Union began to disintegrate, in 1989. Cuba was depending on Soviet RussiaUnion for its agriculture and trading operations and its agro-economy was shaken. Cuba was largely cultivating sugarcane in its agriculture lands. The sugarcane was sold to Soviet Union at a premium price. Cuba was dependent on other countries for its internal food supply requirements. It became a serious challenge for the Cuban government to manage the food scarcity faced by its people due to the problems of the Soviet Union. During that critical circumstance, Cuba realized its failure to have not concerned about its food production.
During that period, Cuba was the only country who competed with America in using sophisticated equipment to modernize its agriculture practices. With that in practice, there was a sudden shortage for petrol, diesel, fertilizers and pesticides used for modern agriculture practices. Without diesel, tractors could not be run, and pesticides could not be sprayed. The farmers of Cuba were struggling to manage the challenge. Due to lack of any other alternatives Cuba chose organic farming. In 2002, Cuba was able to produce 32 lakh tons of organic food products from its urban farms. By these efforts, the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the United Nations reported that the people of Cuba were able to have 2600 kilo calories of food per day. Beyond these efforts, Cuba has been many miles head in its global health and hygiene measures. Cuba has been the best example to assure that a country’s need for food can be fully taken care of by organic farming.
Department of Agriculture, in America stated that ‘in 2012, the countries of the world produced food for 1350 crore people’. By then the world population was only 700 crore. The FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) of the United Nations states that of the 750 crore current population of the world, about 90 crores (12% of the world population) go to bed with empty stomach. In india too, we produce food two times more than the current population. But statistics states that of the 120 crore population in India, nearly 20 crore of them suffer from malnutrition. India is the second country in the world to suffer from malnutrition. In this circumstance, the international companies and some organizations make propaganda that only they will be able to produce food that the world population needs. They reiterate that they are the only organizations who function scientifically. It accuses those who question them as acting ‘against science and development’. America wastes about 40% of its food produced. In India too, enormous amount of food is wasted due to lack of adequate infrastructure of warehouses, refrigeration storages and refrigerated vehicles. It is unfair to state that organic farming methods cannot fulfill the food needs while wasting such amount of food. At this juncture, the fact published in 2007 by the worldwide research evidenced that the organic farming followed by the small and micro farmers is adequate to provide food for the whole world. Of the total agriculture production only 30% comes from large farmers. The remaining 70% is from small and micro farmers. Through traditional systems, these farmers continue their cultivation with minimum use of water and energy, and at the same time not affecting the environment. It is time to note that 85% of what they produced is sold only to neighborhood and local markets.
(To be continued)
(This series of articles written in Tamil by Ananthu for Pasumai Vikatan magazine has been reproduced in English by V Amalan Stanley)