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Old 20-09-2008, 01:29 PM posted to
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First recorded activity by GardenBanter: Jul 2006
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Default How they grow crops in Cuba with little fuel or pesticides

On Sep 19, 10:25*pm, (Ralph) wrote:
I was just watching this documentary:

The Power of Community - How Cuba Survived Peak Oil
Decompressed is 700 megs downloaded from:
alt.binaries.documentaries - posted there 7-11-08

By "peak oil" they mean the supply of oil peaked and then fell well
below demand. In the 1950s, Cuba used to guzzle fuel like Americans did.
Although Cuban's energy crisis was once much more severe than it is
today, per person Cubans consume only 12% of what Americans use. This
documentary describes how Cuba copes and suggests that the US will one
day go through that and have to discover ways of coping.

In Cuba there is little fuel or pesticides to grow food with. The way
the embargo works is that any ship that docks in Cuba is banned from the
US for 6 months. So Cubans have had to learn to grow crops with little
more than physical labor. They've gone back to using oxen to plow
fields; Older Cubans who remembered how to use oxen were necessary to
teach people how to train the oxen of which now there are thousands in
Cuba. The government leased land to small farmers rent free, but if
crops weren't grown on the land they would take it back and lease it to
someone else. Or they'd take the land back if it was needed for
something else.

To eliminate the need for pesticides they combine many different crops
on small farms which help prevent pests from spreading. Apparently most
insects eat only one or two crops. "If you have one million pounds of
corn, you will have one million bugs that eat only corn." They have also
developed "bio-pesticides" and "bio-fertilizers" and even export them.
80% of their crops are organic. In the 1980s they used 21 thousand tons
of pesticides; Today it's 1 thousand ton. I noticed the older Cuban
people look considerably healthier than their counter-parts in the US
although their life span and infant mortality rates are similar to the

They extend the growing season with a simple canopy over the crop using
a porous fabric. They also use green houses made with a similar fabric
to reduce the heat and radiation, and also to exclude more of the bugs.

With less fuel for transportation, Cuba's higher education has been
decentralized, going from 3 big universities to 50 small ones. Cuba does
trade with Venezuela. Cuba trains doctors and sends them to Venezuela.

(This bit wasn't in the documentary) The US was behind the attempt to
give Venezuela's currency to certain bankers and was behind the attempt
to oust President Hugo Chavez when he refused. (Most currency around the
world is issued by privately owned banks).

"To be politically independent they have to be economically independent.
To be economically independent they have to be energy independent."

Cuba's mass transit system includes trucks converted into buses. They
developed the "camel" which is an 18 wheeler that can carry up to 300
people. Car pooling and hitch-hiking are common. Government vehicles are
required to pick up anyone who needs a ride. Small towns turned to
horses and mules for transportation. Bicycles have come into much
greater use in Cuba for short distances. Cement requires a lot of fuel
to make so building materials are scarce as are also also tools to build
them, yet 85% of Cubans own their own home, most of which are small.
City dwellers tend to live in crowded, dilapidated apartments.

Some Cubans would use a simple solar heater for showering and to preheat
water for boiling to save fuel (shows a metal tank elevated on an 8 ft
stand). Electric solar panels are used in rural schools and clinics.
Cuba does drill for oil, but its poor quality crude is bad for the
environment, but they had to use it to generate electricity. Sugar mills
are used to make fuel to generate electricity when that crop is in

Although Cuban farmers are more wealthy than the average Cuban, there's
a lot of charity with people feeding their elderly neighbors, pregnant
women, giving food to schools, etc. Cubans know their neighbors a lot
better than Americans do. I guess the reason Cubans are better quality
of people is most the greedy Cubans have fled for the US. There's not
much to steal. They also seem happier, more content and more laid back
than Americans. It's the simple life in Cuba, but the people there seem

I think Fidel and his cast of commies who hold an entire impoverished
country prisoner under a failed economic system should get a few books
to read about the miracle of capitalism and freedoom. What a great
system communism is. They use mules and horses for transporation,
convert 50 year old trucks to buses, can't even afford cement and
people write books as if this were a great achievement. If you think
the kind of life they have in Cuba is so groovey, don't come here and
tell us how much happier they are than Americans. Just go live
there. After all, that is one of the basic freedoms you have here
that those living at the subsistance level in Cuba don't.