Agriculture of Cuba

Agriculture of Cuba

Agriculture in Cuba has played an important part in the economy for several hundred years. Agriculture contributes less than 10 percent to the gross domestic product (GDP), but it employs roughly one fifth of the working population. About 30 percent of the country's land is used for crop cultivation [ [ Britannica Online] ] .


Cuba's agricultural history can be divided into five periods, reflecting Cuban history in general:
* Precolonial (before 1492)
* Spanish Colonial (1492 - 1902)
* United States Neocolonial (1902 - 1958)
* Socialist Cuba, pre-Socialist bloc collapse (1959 - 1989)
* Socialist Cuba, post socialist bloc collapse (1989 - Present)

During each of these periods, agriculture in Cuba has confronted unique obstacles and underwent numerous challenges.

Before the revolution 1959, the agricultural sector in Cuba was largely oriented towards and dominated by the US economy. After the communist government took over, the Soviet Union supported the Cuban agriculture by paying premium prices for Cuba's main agricultural product, sugar, and by delivering fertilizers. Sugar was bought by the Soviets at more than five times the market price. Also 95 percent of its citrus crop was exported to the COMECON. On the other hand, the Soviets provided Cuba with 63 percent of its food imports and 90 percent of its petrol [ Cuba's agricultural revolution an example to the world - by Andrew Buncombe] ] .

After the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Cuban agricultural sector faced a very difficult period. The agricultural production fell by 54% between 1989 and 1994] . The answer of the Cuban government was to strengthen the base of agricultural biodiversity by making a greater range of varieties of seed available to farmers [ [ cuba agriculture .com - Cuba Agriculture History ] ] . In the 1990s, the Cuban government prioritized food production and put the focus on small farmers. Already in 1994, the government allowed farmers to sell their surplus production directly to the population. This was the first move to lift the state's monopoly on food distribution [ [ The New York Times, January 10, 1995 - Cuba's Agriculture Shows Improvements] ] . Due to the shortage in artificial fertilizers and pesticides, the Cuban agricultural sector largely turned organic [ [ A Different Kind of Green Revolution in Cuba by Hal Hamilton] ] , with the Organopónicos playing a major role in this transition.

Today, there are several different forms of agricultural production, including cooperatives such as UBPCs ("Unidad Básica de Producción Cooperativa") and CPAs ("Cooperativa de Producción Agropecuaria").

Some of this is described in the documentary "The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil" [ The Power of Community: How Cuba Survived Peak Oil] ] .

Urban Agriculture

Due to the shortage of fuel and therefore severe deficiencies in the transportation sector a growing percentage of the agricultural production takes place in the so-called urban agriculture. In 2002, convert|35000|acre|km2 of urban gardens produced 3.4 million tons of food. In Havana, 90% of the city's fresh produce come from local urban farms and gardens. In 2003, more than 200,000 Cubans worked in the expanding urban agriculture sector [ [ Cuban Ministry of Agriculture] ] .



Until 1960, the USA received 33% of their sugar imports from Cuba. However, the sugarjj production has fallen from approx. 8 million tons to approx. 3.2 million tons in the 1990s.


. Tobacco is the third largest source of hard currency for Cuba [ [ Cubanet] ] . The income derived from the cigars is estimated at 200 MioUS$ [CNN: The color and complexity of Cuba’s cigars April 9, 2007] . The two main varieties grown in Cuba are Corojo and Criollo.See also: Cuban cigars


Cuba is the world's third largest producer of grapefruit. 60% of the citrus production are oranges, 36% grapefruit.. In the citrus production the first foreign investment in Cuba's agricultural sector took place: In 1991, the participation of an enterprise from Israel in the production and processing of citrus is the "Jagüey Grande" area, approx. 140 km east of Havana, was officially recognized [] . The products are mainly marketed in Europe under the brand name "Cubanita".


Rice plays a major role in the Cuban diet. Rice in Cuba is mostly grown along the western coast. There are two crops per year. The majority of the rice farms are state-frams or belong to co-operatives [ [ FAO Corporate Document Repository] ] . Cuba has been a major importer of rice recently the annual rice imports have approached 500 000 tonnes of milled rice. The production of rice is limited due to the shortage of water and similar to other industries in Cuba the lack of fertilizers and modern agricultural technology. The yield per hectar remains lower than the average of Central American and Caribbean countries [ [ FAO Corporate Document Repository] ] .


The per capita consumption of potatoes in Cuba amounts to 25 kg per year. Potatoes are mainly consumed as French fries. The potato production areas (in total 37,000 acres) are concentrated in the Western part of Cuba. The main variety grown in Cuba is the Désirée [ [ World Potato Atlas] ] . Seed potatoes are partly produced locally. Some 40,000 tons of seed potatoes are imported annually from Canada and the Netherlands [ [ Cuba works toward seed potato deal with North Dakota in: The Bismarck] ] .


in a plant near Florida, Central Cuba. [ [ EVD - The Netherlands] ] .

Tropical fruits

Plantains and bananas account for over 70 percent of production with plantain 47% and banana 24% of the local production. Both are only produced for domestic consumption [ [ USDA 2004] ] . Other tropical fruits produced in Cuba are mango, papaya, pineapple, avocado, guava, coconut, and anonaceae (sugar apple family).


See also

* Agrarian Reform Laws of Cuba
* Special Period - Change in agriculture

External links

* Andrew Buncombe [ The good life in Havana: Cuba's green revolution] "The Independent" 8 August 2006
* []

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