How Cuba Leads the World in Permaculture: Part 2

The 11th International Permaculture Convergence and the Antonio Nuñez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity in Cuba, 2013

Nina Serrano Interviews Roberto Perez about Permaculture in Cuba, Part 2

Cuban Oxen pulling a plow.  Photo by Global Exchange.org.

Cuban Oxen pulling a plow. Photo by Global Exchange.org.

Roberto Perez reviewed in Part 1 of this two part interview how Cuba’s import/export economy collapsed along with the Soviet Union and socialist block. With the disappearance of their largest trading partners, Cuba could no longer export sugar or other commodities in exchange for food, petro-chemical fertilizers and pesticides for the island. By 1993 food scarcity mounted into a crisis of widespread hunger that Cuba calls their “Special Period.” A new emphasis on self sufficiency in food production emerged, accelerated by the tightening of the US embargo during those years.

In part 2, permaculture expert Roberto Perez discusses his activities, as a director of the Antonio Nuñez Jimenez Foundation for Nature and Humanity, to counter the food crisis that occurred in Cuba. Antonio Nuñez was a revolutionary guerrilla fighter under Che Guevara, and then the Minister of Agrarian Reform.  He succeeded Guevara as president of the Cuban National Bank and later served as president of the Academy of Sciences and ambassador to Peru. The Nuñez Jimenez Foundation was founded in 1993 as an NGO upon Nuñez’s retirement from government service. 

Roberto Perez joined the team and with his colleagues began introducing permaculture ideas and techniques to produce food sustainably without pesticides or petro-chemical fertilizers in the cities and countryside. . Australian experts initiated training and soon Cubans were training each other and the ideas spread. Today Cuba leads the world in sustainable agriculture. Sixteen Cuban cities keep themselves supplied in leaf vegetables. Small livestock and poultry are raised on roof gardens, balconies and vacant lots. Rural farms are restoring the traditional ways of using oxen, eliminating mechanization and its environmental polluting outcomes.  Compost is now widely generated to fertilize the earth.

Into this exciting transformation on the island comes the 11th International Permaculture Convergence to be held in November, 2013, in Cuba.  Perez tells how U.S. citizens can legally travel to Cuba to participate in the Convergence through Global Exchange and other groups. This trip is open to full time professionals, practitioners, students and activists in the areas of agriculture, food and nutrition, environmental protection, environmental education, appropriate technology, and other fields related to permaculture and to sustainable agricultural development in general.

Perez’s California tour was hosted by the Occidental Arts and Ecology Center in Occidental, California and the Movement Generation Project of Berkeley, California.


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