Prior to 1990, state run farms and conventional agriculture using chemical fertilizers and massive monocultures dominated agriculture in Cuba. This was the result of the “Green Revolution.” After the Cuban Revolution of 1959, the government took over 70% of the large estates in order to produce enough food for the population, generate exports, provide raw materials, and reduce poverty in the countryside. (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002) 80% of the lands of Cuba were state owned, 90,000 tractors were in use and 1,300,000 tons of chemical fertilizers, 600,000 tons of feed concentrates, and $80 million worth of pesticides were in use yearly. (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002) As early as 1970 the Cuban government was attempting to reduce external inputs required for farm production because of rising prices of imported goods. At that time, Cuba relied upon outside resources for fuel and food. (Morgan, 2007) It is common to believe that outside sources of food is the only way to feed a small country. Cuba has proven that incorrect.
The collapse of trade with the soviet bloc that led to the dramatic decrease of farm inputs led to a drastic decrease in food production. The decrease in farm inputs as well as large conventional state farms, which a small cadre of individuals with tractors farmed, led to a requirement of a drastic change in policy. The intent was to switch to a low input system and to increase production.
Cuba accomplished this through the following measures
:- Decentralization of the state farm sector through new organizational forms and structures
– Land distribution to encourage production of crop varieties in various regions of the country
– Reduction of specialization in agricultural production
– Production of biological pest controls and biofertilizers
– Renewed use of animal traction
– Promotion of urban, family, and community gardening movements
– Opening of farmers’ markets under “supply and demand” conditions (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002)
The Cuban Special Period required a change in social organization as well as a change in ecological and farming practices. The dissolution of large state run farms and the dissemination of lands to the people required this change. In order to increase production, the government created several Land Tenure Structures (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002) These structures are the Agriculture Production Cooperatives (CPA), Credit and Services Cooperatives (CCS), Basic Units of Cooperative Production (UBPC), Lands in usufruct – rural sector, Urban Agriculture, GENT, and state enterprises. Cuba also reintroduced the supply and demand system which was had only been a brief experiment in years prior. Image 1 depicts the amount of state control from the most (top) to the least (bottom). (See image 1)
Of the state sector, the workplace/public institution sector is of particular interest. After the Cuban Special Period, the Cuban government expected major institutions such as government buildings, hospitals, and schools to supply their own food supply. This led to food sourcing from local gardens directly outside of the buildings in order to supply lunches (mostly) for the inhabitants of those offices. (Funes, Garcia, Bourque, Perez, & Rosset, 2002) It would be interesting to determine if this process was more economically efficient in terms of food sourcing compared to ordering food items from an outside source.
Sources cited in Cuban Special Period 1 of 4