Advertisement

Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 233–243 | Cite as

Institutionalizing agroecology: successes and challenges in Cuba

  • Erin Nelson
  • Steffanie ScottEmail author
  • Judie Cukier
  • Ángel Leyva Galán
Article

Abstract

Over the past two decades, Cuba has become a recognized global leader in sustainable agriculture. This paper explores how this process of agricultural transition has taken place, and argues that it has largely been led by research institutes, non-state organizations and the Cuban government, which have all contributed to the institutionalization of agroecology in both policy and practice. This process has been highly effective in terms of the numbers of people using agroecological techniques. However, although these techniques have been widely adopted by farmers across the country, this paper suggests that many still perceive maximizing production to be a higher priority than maintaining a commitment to agroecological ideals. For these farmers, agroecological farming is viewed primarily as a pragmatic decision rather than an ideological or moral one, and they may thus be susceptible to shifting back to conventional production if this option became politically and economically feasible

Keywords

Agroecology Cuba Institutionalization Sustainable agriculture 

Abbreviations

ACTAF

Asociación Cubano de Técnicos Agropecuarios y Forestales (Cuban Association of Agricultural and Forestry Technicians)

ANAP

Asociación Nacional de Agricultores Pequeños (National Association of Small Farmers)

CENSA

Centro Nacional de Sanidad Agropecuario (National Centre for Agricultural Health)

CREE

Centro de Reproducción de Entomofages y Entomopatogenos (Centre for Reproduction of Entomphages and Entomopathogens)

INCA

Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agrícolas (National Institute of Agricultural Sciences)

MINAGRI

Ministerio de Agricultura (Ministry of Agriculture)

NGO

Nongovernmental organization

UBPC

Unidad Basico de Producción Cooperativa (Basic Unit of Cooperative Production)

Notes

Acknowledgements

The authors are extremely grateful to all the farmers who participated in this study and opened their homes and hearts to the researchers involved. We would also like to thank four anonymous reviewers and the editor of this journal, Dr. Harvey James, for their constructive criticism and support in the writing of this paper.

References

  1. Altieri, M. 1998. Ecological impacts of industrial agriculture and the possibilities for truly sustainable farming. Monthly Review 50 (3): 60–71.Google Scholar
  2. Altieri, M., N. Companioni, K. Canizares, C. Murphy, P. Rosset, M. Bourque, and C. Nicholls. 1999. The greening of the ‘barrios’: Urban agriculture for food security in Cuba. Agriculture and Human Values 16: 131–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Álvarez, M. 2002. Social organization and sustainability of small farm agriculture in Cuba. In Sustainable agriculture and resistance: Transforming food production in Cuba, ed. F. Funes, L. Garcia, M. Bourque, N. Perez, and P. Rosset, 72–89. Oakland, California: Food First Books.Google Scholar
  4. Buck, D., C. Getz, and J. Guthman. 1997. From farm to table: The organic vegetable commodity chain of Northern California. Sociologia Ruralis 37 (1): 3–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Carranza, J. 2002. The Cuban economy during the 1990s: A brief assessment of a critical decade. In Development prospects in Cuba: An agenda in the making, ed. P. Monreal, 30–46. London: Institute of Latin American Studies.Google Scholar
  6. Chambers, R. 1987. Rural development: Putting the last first. New York, NY: Addison-Wesley.Google Scholar
  7. Chaplowe, S. 1998. Havana’s popular gardens: Sustainable prospects for urban agriculture. The Environmentalist 18: 47–57.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  8. Deere, C.D., N.P. Roja, C.T. Vila, M.G. Aguiar, and E.G. Mastrapa. 1998. Güines, Santo Domingo, Majibacoa: sobre sus historias agrarias. La Habana, Cuba: Editorial de Ciencias Sociales.Google Scholar
  9. Enriques, L. 2000. Cuba’s new agricultural revolution: the transformation of food crop production in contemporary Cuba. Food First Institute for Food and Development Policy Development Report No. 14. http://www.foodfirst.org/en/node/271. Accessed 23 Feb 2005.
  10. Fairweather, J. 1999. Understanding how farmers choose between organic and conventional production: Results from New Zealand and policy implications. Agriculture and Human Values 16: 51–63.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Freire, P. 1982. Pedagogy of the oppressed. New York, NY: Continuum Publishing.Google Scholar
  12. Funes, F. 2002. The organic farming movement in Cuba. In Sustainable agriculture and resistance: Transforming food production in Cuba, ed. F. Funes, L. Garcia, M. Bourque, N. Perez, and P. Rosset, 1–26. Oakland, California: Food First Books.Google Scholar
  13. Goodman, D. 2000. Organic and conventional agriculture: materializing discourse and agro-ecological managerialism. Agriculture and Human Values 17: 215–219.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Gomez Tovar, L. 2005. Organic farming: A sustainable alternative for peasant and Indigenous Mexican producers. Presentation to the 24th Annual Organic Agriculture Conference. Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 20–23 January 2005.Google Scholar
  15. Guthman, J. 2002. Commodified meanings, meaningful commodities: Re-thinking production-consumption links through the organic system of provision. Sociologia Ruralis 42 (4): 295–311.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Hall, A., and V. Mogyorody. 2001. Organic farmers in Ontario: An examination of the conventionalisation argument. Sociologia Ruralis 41 (4): 399–422.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. International Fund for Agricultural Development. 2003. The adoption of organic agriculture among small farmers in Latin America and the Caribbean, Report No.1337. http://www.ifad.org/evaluation/public_html/eksyst/doc/thematic/pl/organic.htm. Accessed 13 March 2005.
  18. Ikerd, J. 1993. The need for a systems approach to sustainable agriculture. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 46: 147–160.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Ikerd, J. 2005. Local organics saves farmland and communities. Presentation to the 24th Annual Organic Agriculture Conference. Guelph, Ontario, Canada, 20–23 Jan 2005.Google Scholar
  20. Kaltoft, P. 2001. Organic farming in late modernity: At the frontier of modernity or opposing modernity? Sociologia Ruralis 41 (1): 146–158.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Levins, R. 2002. The unique pathway to Cuban development. In Sustainable agriculture and resistance: Transforming food production in Cuba, ed. F. Funes, L. Garcia, M. Bourque, N. Perez, and P. Rosset, 276–280. Oakland, CA: Food First Books.Google Scholar
  22. Martín, L. 2002. Transforming the Cuban countryside: Property, markets, and technological change. In Sustainable agriculture and resistance: Transforming food production in Cuba, ed. F. Funes, L. Garcia, M. Bourque, N. Perez, and P. Rosset, 57–71. Oakland, California: Food First Books.Google Scholar
  23. Michelsen, J. 2001. Organic farming in a regulatory perspective: The Danish case. Sociologia Ruralis 41 (1): 62–84.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  24. Nieto, M., and R. Delgado. 2002. Cuban agriculture and food security. In Sustainable agriculture and resistance: Transforming food production in Cuba, ed. F. Funes, L. Garcia, M. Bourque, N. Perez, and P. Rosset, 40–56. Oakland, California: Food First Books.Google Scholar
  25. Perera, A. 2002. Propuesta para la evaluación de la metodología de campesino-a-campesino. La Habana: Oxfam Solidaridad y Pan para el Mundo.Google Scholar
  26. Pérez, N., and L.L. Vázquez. 2002. Ecological pest management. In Sustainable agriculture and resistance: Transforming food production in Cuba, ed. F. Funes, L. Garcia, M. Bourque, N. Perez, and P. Rosset, 109–143. Oakland, California: Food First Books.Google Scholar
  27. Pretty, J., and R. Hine. 2001. Reducing food poverty with sustainable agriculture: A summary of new evidence. Essex, UK: Department for International Development, Bread for the World Germany, and Greenpeace Germany.Google Scholar
  28. Pugliese, P. 2001. Organic farming and sustainable rural development: A multifaceted and promising convergence. Sociologia Ruralis 41 (1): 112–130.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Rigby, D., and S. Bown. 2003. Organic food and global trade: Is the market delivering agricultural sustainability? Paper presented to the European Society for Ecological Economics Frontiers II Conference, Tenerife, Canary Islands, 11–15 Feb 2003.Google Scholar
  30. Ríos, Humberto. (ed.). 2006. Fitomejoramiento participativo: Los agricultores mejoran cultivos. San José de las Lajas, La Habana, Cuba: Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agrícolas.Google Scholar
  31. Rosset, P. 1997. Cuba: Ethics, biological control, and crisis. Agriculture and Human Values 14: 291–302.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Rosset, P., and M. Benjamin. 1994. Two steps back, one step forward: Cuba’s national policy for alternative agriculture. London: International Institute for Environment and Development.Google Scholar
  33. Tovey, H. 1997. Food, environmentalism, and rural sociology: On the organic farming movement in Ireland. Sociologia Ruralis 37 (1): 21–37.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Vos, T. 2000. Visions of the middle landscape: Organic farming and the politics of nature. Agriculture and Human Values 17: 245–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Warwick, H. 2001. Cuba’s organic revolution. Forum for Applied Research and Public Policy Summer Issue: 54–58.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Erin Nelson
    • 1
  • Steffanie Scott
    • 2
    Email author
  • Judie Cukier
    • 2
  • Ángel Leyva Galán
    • 3
  1. 1.School of Environmental Design and Rural DevelopmentUniversity of GuelphGuelphCanada
  2. 2.Department of Geography and Environmental Management, Faculty of EnvironmentUniversity of WaterlooWaterlooCanada
  3. 3.Instituto Nacional de Ciencias Agrícolas (National Institute of Agricultural Sciences)HabanaCuba

Personalised recommendations