A Shared Vision of Food Sovereignty
Cuba's agroecology movement developed in response to threats to food production. Concerns related to environmental and food quality led to the emergence of the sustainable agriculture movement in the U.S.
Today, a broad-based network of sustainable agriculture practitioners and advocates exists within the United States. It was one of the first focused initiatives to emerge from the nation's environmental movement that began in the early 1970s. Organic farming, composting, permaculture and other concepts and practices that form the foundation of the movement were viewed as radical by the conventional farming community which, by that time, had become highly industrialized and fossil-fuel intensive.
In the ensuing decades the popularity of sustainable agriculture has grown as consumers became increasingly aware of the connections between the manner in which the food they consumed was grown, the quality of the environment and their personal health and well-being.
Because The United States and Cuba approached sustainable agriculture via different pathways, different tools were adopted and different lessons learned.
Now that the two countries are in the process of renewing diplomatic relations the opportunity finally exists for our respective sustainable farming communities to share lessons learned and create new agricultural synergies to the benefit of all parties and to the planet as a whole.
The sharing of information is something we can undertake without the need for regulatory change, although policy changes making high-speed Internet available to all would certainly improve communication dramatically.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the goal of the Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network?
The primary goal of the Network is to connect sustainable agriculture stakeholders in the United States with their counterparts in Cuba for the purpose of exchanging information and providing mutual support in their pursuits of agroecological farming practices. We anticipate the development of collaborative education, research and/or marketing initiatives emerging from many of these relationships.
Cuba developed its agroecology system out of necessity in a petroleum-scarce economy. Their experience is unique and invaluable. We want to encourage them to share what they’ve learned with a receptive audience.
Who can become a member of the Network?
Initially we will be inviting individuals and organizations with expertise in those areas in which we hope to establish collaborative initiatives, i.e., agricultural production, research, education/outreach and marketing and who are willing to share that expertise to advance the development of agroecology.
Other stakeholders, including the general public will be able to participate as observers and receive updates on the activities of the Network via our website and other forms of social media.
What are the obligations associated with membership?
The only obligations are: a commitment to advancing sustainable agriculture/agroecology in both countries, an eagerness to learn and exchange information and expertise, and a willingness to collaborate should mutually beneficial opportunities arise.
What are some of the anticipated outcomes of the Network?
The mere existence of the Cuba-U.S. Agroecology Network and the participation of its members will serve as a vehicle for educating the public about the viable options for developing sustainable, resilient food systems that can provide safe food and adequate nutrition and shifts agriculture from being a major contributor to climate change to being part of the solution.
The primary deliverable CUSAN will produce is a “toolkit” consisting of the best agroecology/sustainable agriculture practices culled from the collective wisdom of the two countries. These practices will encompass the entire food system including production, distribution, marketing and education (extension).
We will also explore opportunities for collaborating with Cuban farmers, researchers and educators.
Is there any relationship between CUSAN and the U.S. Agricultural Coalition for Cuba (USACC)?
No. The USACC (http://www.usagcoalition.com/) is described as a “collaborative action” seeking “improved agricultural trade relations” between the United States and Cuba. USACC is composed primarily of commodity farm interests. It is chaired by Cargill Vice President Devry Boughner Vorwerk.
CUSAN represents a counterpoint to USACC by providing a venue for members of the U.S. farm community interested in sharing knowledge and technical information with Cuba’s peasant farmers and others who make up and drive the country’s agroecology movement.
Contact firstname.lastname@example.org with questions.
Network Design and Coordination
Vermont Caribbean Institute
University of California, Berkeley
Schumacher Center for a
Center for the Study of the Americas (CENSA) and ECOSUR, Mexico
The Christopher Reynolds Foundation
Director/Producer at Maestra Film
Colegio Universitario San Geronimo de La Habana
W.K. Kellogg Foundation
Local Living Economy
Schumacher Center for a New Economics
Organizer, Activist, Urban Farmer
The Christopher Reynolds Foundation
The Flora Family Foundation