Energy Webquest ~ Part 3
By : Daphne Rave Ching

It was known that Cuba suffered an oil crisis when the Soviet Union collapsed in 1990. The collapse was an economical disaster for Cuba. Cuba lost its primary trading partner, oil imports were cut by half and food by 80%. The United States made it even worse for Cuba by banning any ship that came from Cuba from entering the U.S. for 6 months. Cuba's economy shrank by almost 35% within a year.

In the beginning of the crisis there was a general breakdown in agricultural and transportation sectors, pesticide and fertilizer stocks and widespread shortages of food. During this time there were several permaculturists who traveled to Cuba to give aid and to teach their agriculture techniques to the Cubans. The Cuban government supported the organic agriculture, it had to replace the old industrialized form of agriculture.

The production of meat and dairy products were very dependent on fossil fuel. These products disappeared from the Cuban diet within a matter of days. The Cubans had to change their Latin American food habits for diets freshly produced, higher in fiber, and more vegetarian in character.

Since there was a lack of oil alternative transportation was necessary to handle the transportation of thousands of people who had to go to work, school and other daily activities. Carpooling and hitch-hiking became a normal activity.

The collapse of the Soviet Union had a huge impact. Cuba lost around 80% of its exports, 80% of its imports and its GDP(Gross Domestic Product) dropped by almost 35%. Food and medicine became scarce. Cuba completely relied on the Soviet Union for oil imports, Cuba's oil import immediately dropped to 10%.

Today more than 50% of the food needs of Havana’s two million citizens is produced by local urban farmers. There are more than 1,000 local stores in Havana selling locally grown fruit and vegetables. In smaller towns and cities the numbers are even higher between 70 to 100%. Farmers are now among the highest paid workers in Cuba.