Transforming Food Production In Cuba

Sustainable agriculture and resistance.

This is a story of Cuba’s remarkable recovery from a food crisis brought on by the collapse of trade relations with the former socialist block and the tightening of the USA’s trade embargo.

Food First Books 0-935028-87-0

Fernando Funes. Luis Garcia. Martin Bourque. Nilda Perez. Peter Rosset.


Unable to import food or the farm chemicals and machines needed to grow food by conventional agriculture, Cuba turned inward toward self-reliance. Sustainable agriculture, organic farming, urban gardens, smaller farms, animal traction, and biological pest control are all part of a successful paradigm shift in the Cuban countryside.

In this book, Cuban authors offer details – for the first time in English – of these remarkable achievements, which may serve as guideposts toward healthier, more environmentally friendly and self-reliant farming countries. In 1999 the Right Livelihood Award, known as the ” Alternative Nobel Prize “, was awarded to the Cubans in the Swedish Parliament for these advances.

” The Cuban experience has demonstrated that the adoption of agroecological methods can bring about productive and economic benefits in a socially equitable manner. The advances achieved by Cuba to date, which are reflected in this book, offer a valuable set of lessons for the millions of people throughout the world that are comitted to sustainable agriculture.”

— from the prolouge by Professor Miguel Altieri, Environmental Studies, University of California at Berklet

” To undestand Cuban agricultural development we must first look at the richness of detail in this volume. Then we have to step back to squint to capture the truly novel pathway of development that Cuba is pioneering. And then once again we have to focus in on the details, and glipse the processes through which Cuba is creating something truly new and hopeful for all of humanity. ”

— from the epilogue by Professor Richard Levins, Harvard University School of Public Health


Table of Contents

Note from the Editors

Prologue: Principles and Strategies of Agroecology in Cuba/Miguel Altieri

Introduction: Lessons of Cuban Resistance/Peter Rosset and Martin Bourque

PART I: History, Context, and Structures of Change

Chapter One: The Organic Farming Movement in Cuba/Fernando Funes Chapter Two: Cuban Agriculture Before 1990/Armando Nova Chapter Three: Cuban Agriculture and Food Security/Marcos Nieto and Ricardo Delgado Chapter Four: Transforming the Cuban Countryside: Property, Markets, and Technological Change/Lucy Martín Chapter Five: Social Organization and Sustainability of Small Farm Agriculture in Cuba/Mavis D. Álvarez Chapter Six: Agroecological Education and Training/Luis García

PART II: Alternative Practices for a New Agriculture

Chapter Seven: Ecological Pest Management/Nilda Pérez and Luis L. Vázquez Chapter Eight: Intercropping in Cuba/Antonio Casanova, Pedro L. Quintero, and Adrián Hernández Chapter Nine: Mechanization, Animal Traction, and Sustainable Agriculture/Arcadio Ríos and Félix Ponce Chapter Ten: Advances in Organic Soil Management/Eolia Treto, Margarita García, Rafael Martínez-Viera, and José M. Febles Chapter Eleven: The Integration of Crops and Livestock/Marta Monzote, Eulogio Muñoz, and Fernando Funes Monzote

PART III: Examples and Case Studies

Chapter Twelve: Green Medicine: An Option of Richness/Mercedes García Chapter Thirteen: The Growth of Urban Agriculture/Nelso Companioni, Egidio Páez, Yanet Ojeda Hernández, and Catherine Murphy Chapter Fourteen: “Cultivo Popular”: Small-Scale Rice Production/Miguel Socorro, Luis Alemán, and Salvador Sánchez Chapter Fifteen: Sugarcane and Sustainability in Cuba/Rafael Suárez Rivacoba and Rafael B. Morín Chapter Sixteen: Case Studies: The Mixed Experiences of Two New Cooperatives/Niurka Pérez and Dayma Echevarría

Epilogue/Richard Levins

List of Acronyms

About the Authors

Directory of Institutions and Authors