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Christie Qualey


Professor Yarberry

October 25, 2009

A Rice Revolution

When one thinks of rice paddies they often conjure up pacific Asian farmers amidst steep

terraced slopes. This is for good reason as Japanese rice farming dates back at least 2000

years.(McKibben) Cuba has taken in the direction of Asian style farming and began to

devote much of its fertile land to growing rice. Just as Cuban’s have learned much from

Asian culture farming, we too can learn from Cuba’s sustainable practices and

resourceful implementations.

After the fall of the Soviet Union and Castro’s revolt of 1959, Cuba was left an

outcast from the global market and without essential commodities such as oil and

necessary food staples.(McKibben) Cuba’s land had been devoted to sugar cane

production, and with a sudden halt of trade, they were left with a surplus of sugar and a

depletion of monetary funds. Streets were desolate of cars, shops were closed, electricity

out, and most notably people were hungry. The large farms of sugar cane were previously

run by heavy petrol machines, which had consequently stopped. ( Grogg)

“In 1989, according to the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, the

average Cuban was eating 3,000 calories per day. Four years later that figure had


Similarly to much of China and the Asian Pacific. You won’t see huge terraced paddies in Cuba but rather many small scale productions that produce a significant yield. Cuba remains on a path of independence. front lawns. some years mother nature takes a devastating turn resulting in immense crop failure. pesticides.900. Over 130. animal labor. “The Cuban Rice Program” was introduced in 1996 and continues to encourage sustainable rice growing practices. fallen to 1. 2 . Like most of the world.(Grogg) With adequate planning. vacant lots. Seeking to lessen its imports of rice and strengthen its export. It was as if they suddenly had to skip one meal a day. Small scale farming without the use of chemicals. and composting.(Grogg) Although Cuba is now more active in import and export trade. swells. However.1 Mckibben) When people are hungry they are forced to take action. Any available land became devote to food production. medians. Cuba can work with the climate patterns to keep in sync with nature and production . Implements such as creating water catchments. This is achieved through modeling Asian culture rice paddies that work with nature. Cuba has experienced prolonged drought followed by monsoon rains.000 hectares have been planted thus far and are expected to increase. Cuba and the Caribbean have experienced global climate impacts. city parks. and petroleum was replaced by huge monocrops by necessity but is now an ideal model for emulation. Cuban food production can be liken to the old times of people working both independently and community minded. week after month after year. like Asian rice paddies.”(p. and the like. every day. it still has a strong foundation of self sustainability.

Asian culture have known and implemented sustainable rice farming for thousands of years. as peak oil comes nearer and environmental damage becomes more apparent. The Western World can take advantage of these sustainability techniques in creating a system akin to nature. and are ones that much of the world will experience in the foreseeable future. Cuba’s set backs have been great. and Cuba is taking from this ancient wisdom to ensure their livelihood. 3 .

Oct 2009. Print. <http://ipsnews. 4 .asp?idnews=22907>. McKibben. Web. "Cuba: Small Rice Paddies Produce Big Results. Rachel." Harper Publications April 2005: 3. "The Cuba Diet: What Will You Be Eating When the Revolution Comes?. Work Cited Grogg." IPS News 2004: 2.