2008-12-06 Cuban environmental study tour

Cuba’s experience of coping with their Peak Oil crisis has been an inspiration for many people in Britain who are now considering how we will cope with our own food security issues here in the light of looming global Peak Oil sometime after 2010.

The driving force for me to visit Cuba now was trying to start to understand how successful Cuba has been at coping from the grassroots level. How would the situation compare to the image portrayed in the DVD “Power of Community”?

Another reason for visiting now is that these are auspicious times as it is the 50th Anniversary of the end of the Cuban revolution on January 1st 2009 and the main characters involved Fidel Castro and the current president Raoul Castro are now getting on in years. What will happen in relation to Cuba’s position in associated with the global community? What will trade and self-sufficiency be like in the near future? Will the inauguration of Baraka Obarma as the new US president make a difference to Cuban isolation?

The Environmental Study Tour was organized by The Cuban Solidarity Support Group based in the UK. It comprised a good mix of social, environmental, cultural and leisure activities. Since the collapse of the Soviet Union – sugar has declined as an export and knowledge based activities and high-tech manufacturing particularly in the medical area have grown in importance. In addition tourism has become important – including medical and ecotourism – such as this one to look at the different approaches Cuba has used to tackle environmental and food security issues.

The impact of tourism
Havana felt safe – but there were a lot of beggars pestering you. I think begging has increased as tourism has grown. I am not sure what the government thinks about this. We were told that it was very rare to see hungry beggars in Cuba – but it was suggested that we should look to see if they were well dressed and shod or not – because clothes are expensive in Cuba.

©  Andrew Ormerod 2013

About cornucopiaalchemy

Dr. Andrew Ormerod has 14 years experience working as the Economic Botanist at the Eden Project - researching topical stories, artefacts, ethnobotanical inks, catering and retail links to exhibits. Previously I was involved with plant breeding and plant tissue culture working on a range of crops including winter cauliflowers, agricultural lupins, vining peas, wheat and barley and coconuts. I am now freelance and am interested in opportunities for lecturing; writing articles; consultancy linked to development of botanic gardens for crops based exhibits; supply chain work for unusual food or non-food crops with interesting stories about plants and people attached to them.
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