Agriculture and Human Values

, Volume 33, Issue 2, pp 415–426 | Cite as

Increasing food sovereignty with urban agriculture in Cuba

  • Friedrich LeitgebEmail author
  • Sarah Schneider
  • Christian R. Vogl


Urban agriculture in Cuba has played an important role for citizens’ food supply since the collapse of the Eastern Block. Through the land reform of 2008 and the Lineamientos of 2011, the Cuban government has aimed to support agriculture in order to increase national food production and reduce imports. However, the implementation of the designed measures faced obstacles. Therefore, the research objective was to display how the government’s measures aiming to support domestic food production influenced urban agriculture. The qualitative research comprised semi-structured interviews with 15 urban farmers in Havana and revealed the respondents’ experiences with the land reform and the Lineamientos and the potential of the reforms to implement food sovereignty. Findings show that the land reform has facilitated access to land for newcomer and existing farmers. However, availability of agricultural inputs has been limited and they were often expensive. Thus, urban farmers frequently produced farm inputs at their plots and applied sustainable farming practices to minimize their dependence on external inputs. The reforms have generated private marketing opportunities and have stimulated urban farmers to increase production. At the same time, subsidies have been reduced and consumers have faced increasing food prices. In conclusion, the land reform and the Lineamientos have created framework conditions for food sovereignty. However, the challenge is to increase the coherence of the theoretic aim and the practical implementation of the reforms.


Cuba Policy reforms Urban agriculture Food sovereignty 



Bolivian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America


National Small Farmers Association


Credit and Service Cooperative


Centers for the Reproduction of Entomophages and Entomopathogens


Agricultural Support Stores


National Group for Urban and Sub-urban Agriculture


National Institute for Fundamental Research in Tropical Agriculture


Cuban Communist Party



Field research was accomplished with the financial support of the short-term grant abroad (KWA) of the University of Vienna. The field work in Cuba was done thanks to a student visa under an official agreement between the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences, Vienna (BOKU) and Cuba’s National Institute for Fundamental Research in Tropical Agriculture (INIFAT). Staff members of INIFAT facilitated and supervised the field research. Finally, we would like to thank all respondents for sharing their knowledge.

Ethical standards

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Friedrich Leitgeb
    • 1
    Email author
  • Sarah Schneider
    • 2
  • Christian R. Vogl
    • 1
  1. 1.Division of Organic Farming (IFÖL), Department of Sustainable Agricultural SystemsUniversity of Natural Resources and Life SciencesViennaAustria
  2. 2.Department of Development StudiesUniversity of ViennaViennaAustria

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