Cuban Agriculture 1959-1989

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Cuban Agriculture 1959-1989 covers agriculture in Cuba from the Cuban Revolution (1959) until the start of the Special Period in Time of Peace.

Agrarian Reform

Prior to the Cuban Revolution, land ownership was highly concentrated, with eight percent of landowners controlling more than 70% of the land. U.S. owners controlled one quarter of Cuban land.[1] The Agrarian Reform Laws of 1959 and 1963, passed shortly after the Revolution, redistributed 1.1 million hectares to more than 200,000 peasant families and took control of approximately 4.4 million hectares, or 71 percent of the total area.[2] State land was divided into "People's State Farms."

Small peasant farmers were organized by the National Small Farmers Association of Cuba (ANAP). They could also join Credit and Service Cooperatives (CCSs), a form of organization in which individual landholders retained control of their own land but joined together for marketing, accessing credit, and purchasing farm machinery. Another form of collective organization created at the Fifth Congress of the National Small Farmers Association of Cuba (ANAP) were Agriculture Production Cooperatives (CPAs).[3] In 1989, 78 percent of arable land was owned by the state, 10 percent belonged to Agriculture Production Cooperatives (CPAs), and 12 percent to Credit and Service Cooperatives (CCSs).[4]

Adoption of Industrial Agriculture

"On average, 1,300,000 tons of chemical fertilizers and 600,000 tons of feed concentrates for livestock production were used every year, together with $80 million worth of pesticides. The number of tractors employed in Cuban agriculture grew to 90,000, as the number of ox teams shrank to less than 100,000."[5]

Cuba boasted the most tractors per person and per unit of area, and the second highest average grain yields within Latin America. Nearly half of Cuba's fertilizer and 82 percent of pesticides, both which Cuban agriculture heavily depended upon, were imported.[6]

Pesticide Use and Integrated Pest Management

In the 1960's and 70's, pest control in Cuba was based "almost exclusively on the use of chemical pesticides. Predefined norms were used for each crop, which stipulated which chemicals to spray, at what dosages or rates, and when - based on calendarized applications."[7]

In 1975, Cuba created Regional Plant Protection Stations (ETPPs) across the country and immediately cut pesticide imports in half, from about 40,000 tons in 1974 to less than 20,000 tons the next year. "In order to build this network of ETPPs, a massive research program was mounted to study the biology, ecology, behavior, damage potential, thresholds, and control methods of the principle crop pests and diseases[8] The ETPPs provided a nationwide pest monitoring and early warning system so that farmers would not spray pesticides unless pests were actually present.

In 1982, Cuba adopted Integrated Pest Management (IPM) as its official state policy.[9] During the 1980's, Cuba's Ministry of Agriculture and Ministry of Sugar began establishing Centers for Production of Entomophages and Entomopathogens (CREEs), which produced biological controls for agricultural pests. As of 1988, the Ministry of Agriculture had 82 CREEs.[10]

Sugarcane

Prior to 1960, the U.S. was a major customer of Cuba's sugar industry. Before the Revolution, sugarcane covered approximately 2,680,000 hectares of Cuba's land, representing 40% of Cuba's arable land.[11] In 1958, Cuba produced 5,862,000 metric tons of sugarcane.[12]

Cuba invested heavily in increasing sugarcane yields, particularly at the end of the 1960s, achieving production of 8.5 million metric tons of sugarcane in 1970. Yields increased beginning in 1965, but still did not reach yields achieved by other sugar producing nations. By 1988, state-owned lands yielded 55.9 tons per hectare and privately owned lands achieved 61.3 tons per hectare.[13]

Throughout the 1980s, the sugar industry employed 1/6 of Cuba's population and consumed about 1/3 of Cuba's resources (land and other inputs). Sugar represented about 80 percent of the value of Cuban exports and 10 percent of the nation's GDP.[1] Following the Cuban revolution and until 1991, Cuba could rely on the Soviet Union to buy its sugar. After an initial effort to diversify Cuba's agriculture away from sugar following the Revolution, in 1969-80, "a policy change declared sugar to be the backbone of the economy."[1] Cuba produced an average of 6.4 million metric tons of sugar in the 1970's and an average of 7.7 million metric tons in the 1980s. At the start of the Special Period, sugar production plunged from 8.1 million metric tons in 1989 to 4 million metric tons in 1993-96.[1]

As of 1989, 30 percent of Cuba's agricultural land was devoted to sugarcane, which was used to generate 75 percent of the nation's export revenues. In turn, Cuba imported 57 percent of its food.[6]

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References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 "Cuba’s Agriculture: Collapse & Economic Reform," USDA, October 1998.
  2. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 4 and 29.
  3. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 30.
  4. Machin Sosa, B., et al. 2010. Revolucion agroecologica: el movimiento de campesino a campesino de la ANAP en Cuba. Cuando el campesino ve, hace fe, Havana: ANAP and La Via Campesina.
  5. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 5.
  6. 6.0 6.1 Peter Michael Rosset, Braulio Machín Sosa, Adilén María Roque Jaime & Dana Rocío Ávila Lozano, "The Campesino-to-Campesino agroecology movement of ANAP in Cuba: social process methodology in the construction of sustainable peasant agriculture and food sovereignty," Journal of Peasant Studies, Volume 38, Issue 1, 2011, p. 161-191.
  7. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 109-110.
  8. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 110.
  9. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 110-111.
  10. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 113-115.
  11. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 36 and 43.
  12. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 36.
  13. Fernando Funes, Luis Garcia, Martin Bourque, Nilda Perez, Peter Rosset, eds, “Sustainable Agriculture and Resistance: Transforming Food Production in Cuba,” Food First Books, 2002, p. 36.

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