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    'Staff publications' is the digital repository of Wageningen University & Research

    'Staff publications' contains references to publications authored by Wageningen University staff from 1976 onward.

    Publications authored by the staff of the Research Institutes are available from 1995 onwards.

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Record number 341253
Title Falta Petroleo! Perspectives on the emergence of a more ecological farming and food system in post-crisis Cuba
Author(s) Wright, J.
Source Wageningen University. Promotor(en): N.G. Röling; E.A. Goewie. - Wageningen : Wageningen University - ISBN 9789085041979 - 351
Department(s) Communication Science
Leerstoel Maatschappelijke aspecten van biologische landbouw
Publication type Dissertation, internally prepared
Publication year 2005
Keyword(s) biologische landbouw - bedrijfssystemen - energiebeleid - cuba - voedselproductie - teeltsystemen - economische ontwikkeling - overheidsbeleid - landbouwbeleid - low input landbouw - landbouwhervorming - voedselzekerheid - organic farming - farming systems - energy policy - food production - cropping systems - economic development - government policy - agricultural policy - low input agriculture - agrarian reform - cuba - food security
Categories Farming Systems
Abstract Keywords: ecological / organic / agriculture / transition / farming systems / co-operatives / Cuba / food security / food system / institutional learning / crisis / rural livelihoods / coping strategies / localisation

This research takes as its case for analysis the nationwide change to a more self-reliant agricultural production and food sector inCubaat the end of the 1990s, almost a decade after the collapse of the Soviet Bloc of theUSSRandEastern Europe. Understanding the Cuban experience is essential for countries which are still unable to provide national security of food, as well as for all those industrialised countries whose agricultural systems are dependent on fossil fuels.

In the early 1990s, industrialisedCubawas faced with a critical situation: its foreign supplies of agricultural inputs and food imports were permanently cut off. There was no other option but to become more self sufficient and to turn to alternative agricultural systems. By the end of the decade, it appeared thatCubahad not only managed to feed all its population and increase production, but also to be operating its agriculture along more ecological lines. This research addresses the nature of this change from the perspectives of farmers and institutional actors. It looks at the type of agriculture emerging inCubaand the interpretation of ecological agriculture, at the institutional processes which drove through and emerged from these changes, and the mechanisms implemented to ensure food security.

The primary data for this research was collected inCubaduring 1999-2001. Over 400 interviews and survey questionnaires were undertaken the provinces ofHavana,CienfuegosandHolguin. These interviews were made with farmers and farm co-operatives, with representatives of the Ministries of Agriculture, the Environment, Education and Health, and with researchers and extension and support staff, and with family households. This was supported by secondary literature, the majority of which was only obtainable from withinCuba.

Cubahas managed to turn around a serious and nation-threatening crisis through an innovative and pragmatic mix of measures in its agricultural and food sectors. This has been achieved through providing safety nets (through social food programmes), emphasising self-provisioning at farm, municipal, provincial and national levels, and localising distribution, storage and processing systems. Decentralisation of States land holdings, increased access to land, and emphasis on individual and community responsibility have all played a part in this, as has investment in more appropriate agricultural research, extension and training. Agricultural production doubled between 1994 and 1999, calorific availability increased by 25%, wages for agricultural workers tripled, yet at the same time subsidies to the agricultural sector were halved. By the end of the decade, the country was able to meet a far higher proportion of domestic food needs than at any time in its recent history and stimulate a far more innovative and forward looking agricultural sector.

The Cuban experience provides food for thought on the development of ecological agriculture: on the top-down promotion and legislation which shows to work to transform an industrialised production system to one of substitution by biological inputs; on the emergence of an agricultural system which embraces the enlightened use of agrochemicals; on the indication that ecological illiteracy rather than agribusiness is limiting the development of ecological agriculture; and on the degree of efficacy of organic development in the absence of a more entrepreneurial and autonomous grassroots organic movement.

The achievement of food security is less dependent on the agricultural husbandry approach than on political will and its comprehensive enactment. Ecological agriculture shows to be technically feasible as a mainstream component of a nation's food security policy, yet an enforced lack of external inputs is insufficient to ensure an ecological agriculture without the political will. Finally, without a more holistic framework for the food system, both human and environmental health-related production problems appear to persist.

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