Cuba is the largest island in the Caribbean with a population over 11 million people. However Cuba imports 80 percent of its food supply annually. Food security has been identified as its top priority. Organic farming co-operatives are thought to be the solution.
Just two kilometers from Havana, the Vivero Alamar farm is at the forefront of organic agriculture in Cuba. It aims to supply people with sustainable fresh food, and challenge the reliance on food imports.
==ISIS MARIA SALCINES MILLA, Urban Organic Farming Specialist, the Alamar Project==
In order to deal with the conditions of the "special period" (economic depression), we had to become organic, not out of conviction, but out of necessity. We either produced food this way or we faced death by starvation.
Unlike in other countries, pesticide-free produce is the rule rather than the exception in Cuba due to lack of supply. Cuba's economy collapsed after the Soviet Union withdrew financial support in 1992. Since then, it continued to use obsolete farming technology, leading to low productivity and high post-harvest losses. Accordingly, Cuba imports 70 to 80 percent of the food it needs, nearly US$2 billion worth in 2015.
==TIMOTHY SMITH, member of Sustainable Summer project==
So locally-grown food is always a good option. But you just got to get the people to start buying locally and that's all part of what we are learning about doing the sustainable lifestyle.
Proponents of urban organic farming say it has immense potential to boost domestic production. Urban farms currently supply around 70% of fruits and vegetables consumed in Havana and Santa Clara. However it is unlikely to meet all of Cuba's food needs, and government interference tends to limit organic urban farms' production and distribution.
==IVAN RODRIGUEZ LOPEZ, local restaurant owner==
Where do I go with the government? Which market? I'm more interested to see how the workers of the urban organic farms take lettuce straight from the earth.
Proponents believe the organic agricultural system may transform Cuba's food supply, and at the same time introduce market forces to its socialist system, if only farmers have more autonomy.
TRANSLATED BY：SASHA CHIU