Claim: Cuba Shows We can Grow Food Without Fertiliser

Essay by Eric Worrall

According to Carbon Brief, the success of organic farming in Cuba and the USA demonstrates the Sri Lankan failure was caused by incompetence, not by a lack of agricultural chemicals.

Q&A: What does the world’s reliance on fertilisers mean for climate change?

11 July 2022

The global production of fertilisers is responsible for around 1.4% of annual CO2 emissions, and fertiliser use is a major contributor of non-CO2 greenhouse gas emissions.

Now, scientists and farmers are faced with a new dilemma: how to feed a still-growing population while reducing agriculture’s impact on climate and the environment. 

Some are trying to end their fertiliser use altogether, while others are looking at how to reduce the amount of nutrients lost by optimising fertiliser application and management. And others are trying to recover lost nutrients from waste, where they can be recycled back into the farm.

Over recent decades, several countries have attempted to make the move away from synthetic fertiliser use. Some can provide a roadmap for doing so successfully, while others act as a cautionary tale. 

Following the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the island nation of Cuba – still under blockade from the US and without another source of agrochemicals or mechanised equipment – was forced to find a new way to farm. In the decades since, Cuba has adopted agroecological farming methods at scale. Meanwhile, the water quality of its rivers and waterways has improved significantly since agroecology became the norm. 

However, the attempted transition away from synthetic inputs in Sri Lanka went markedly less smoothly. Sri Lankan president Gotabaya Rajapaksa announced a ban on the import of agrochemicals in spring 2021 in an attempt to make the country’s agriculture more sustainable. The Sri Lanka Agricultural Economics Association warned the president that yields and farm income would drop precipitously and food insecurity would rise as a result of the policy, and the decision was met with widespread protests. Rajapaksa soon walked back some of the provisions in the ban, but protests have continued as a result of rising food prices and food shortages, along with a national economic crisis.

But Nina Prater, a livestock farmer in Arkansas and a soil scientist at the National Center for Appropriate Technology (NCAT), tells Carbon Brief that farmers that she knows and works with who have switched to organic farming are seeing comparable yields to those who farm using conventional methods

Read more:

The claim that Cuba is an organic agricultural miracle in my opinion is a dangerous fiction. Even The Guardian admits Cuba uses lots of imported agricultural chemicals.

Organic or starve: can Cuba’s new farming model provide food security?

Roger Atwood
Sat 28 Oct 2017 20.00 AEDT

Cuba has never been able to feed itself. It currently imports 60-80% of the food it consumes, at a cost of about $2bn a yearTwo-thirds of its corn is imported and a similar amount of its rice, the latter mainly from Vietnam and Brazil. At markets around the country, sacks of rice can be seen piled to the rafters. Cubans love bread, but wheat doesn’t grow well in the tropical climate, so that has to be imported as well — mostly from the United States, which, in an exception to the Cold War-era trade embargo, sells food to Cuba for cash.

“It’s sad that the immense majority of farmers in Cuba still use pesticides and chemical fertilisers. They’re poison, and they enter our food,” says Pimentel, who raises 45 different crops on four hectares in an isolated valley in western Cuba. He’s proud of the fact he never uses chemicals of any kind. Yet he’s not sure his farm could ever gain certification as organic. The land, in Pinar del Río province, was once planted with tobacco, which has a reputation for high reliance on pesticides. Chemical residues from other crops wash in from neighbouring farms with the rain. 

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Notice the pattern. Communism isn’t a failure, it has just never been done right. Climate models are correct, but the predicted rapid warming is masked by natural variation. And now, the claim that organic farming failed in Sri Lanka because the Sri Lankans followed the wrong roadmap.

It was bad enough when the academics promoting such ideas were just driving up the cost of home heating and gasoline with their climate alarmism. But now they are focussing their attack on the foundations of global food security, and rejecting the abundant evidence they are utterly and catastrophically wrong.

via Watts Up With That?

July 12, 2022 at 04:15PM

One thought on “Claim: Cuba Shows We can Grow Food Without Fertiliser”

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