Cuba, a country cut off from trading with much of western civilization after the 1960’s, now finds itself potentially being the final frontier for organic honey & honey bee populations.
Families across Cuba are taking advantage the demand for their organic honey supply & the high populations of honey bees through-out the island. With an abundance of flower species and a growing population of honeybees, apiaries are popping up all over Cuba and helping families earn enough income to survive.
Cuban honey has become the country’s fourth most valuable food item they’re exporting next to rum, cigars and coffee. Because honey is worth more per liter than oil there is a lot of potential for boom and growth as the demand for organic products rises across the world.
How is Cuban honey organic?
Without the ability for the United States to sell their chemicals and pesticides to Cuba the country was left with no choice but to embrace organic agriculture since it was isolated and left to be resourceful with what they had. One of their ongoing trading partners was with the Soviet Union but after they collapsed in 1991 so did the supply for pesticides in Cuba. Monsanto was not allowed to peddle round-up (which many experts attribute to the massive colony collapse and possible extinction of bees around the world) because of the US’s trade embargo originally put into effect in the 1960’s.
Every bit of honey would be sure to pass organic certification processes since neither wild flowers nor bee populations are being contaminated by the US’s neonicotinoids. This, of course, leads to greater bee populations, more honey and more flower pollination!
“All of [Cuba’s] honey can be certified as organic,” Friedrich told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “Its honey has a very specific, typical taste; in monetary value, it’s a high-ranking product.“
What’s the history behind the embargo?
A few different scenarios triggered the embargo. These actions arrived at a time when huge United States agricultural corporations were claiming land and overthrowing governments in South America such as the Arbenz government in Guatemala.
The Cuban revolution was initiated and on April 15, 1959 Cuba passed Agrarian Reform Laws to break up corporate foreign investments in their land and redistributed the property back to the workers who worked there, co-ops and to the state. Secondly, Cuba decided to reclaim 70,000 acres of land that was used by the US sugar industry. The third incident (on June 6, 1960) was when Cuba had requested for local US and British owned oil refineries to provide their services by refining some Russian crude oil they had acquired. The companies Texaco, Esso and Shell all refused to refine the oil so in response Cuba decided to nationalize the refineries and they became Cuban state property. Within a month after this, Cuba had ordered the seize and nationalization of all US businesses and commercial properties within the country. A month after that Cuba then nationalized agrarian businesses and US industrial facilities and begin nationalizing all existing US properties.
Less than a year later the US government tried to overthrow the Cuban government in the failed Bay of Pigs invasion. The embargo, trade agreements and arrangements continue decade after decade with international condemnation. Cuba says the embargo has cost their economy $126 billion dollars since it began.
- “How the Cuban embargo protects the environment” by Mauricio Claver-Carone
- Cuba’s organic honey exports create buzz as bees die off elsewhere by Chris Arsenault