Evolution and Development of the Urban Agriculture in Cuba

From 1994 began the development of the urban agriculture in Cuba organized and centralized by the government as one of the main alternatives to increase the food’s availability in the country.

In 1995 there were only 257 hectares of organopónicos (urban agriculture farms) in the country, and in 2003 already were 45,000 hectares of urban agriculture in the whole Cuban territory.

New laws were dictated in 2008 allowing the delivery of unused lands owned by the government to natural or juridical under the usufruct concept, those lands already prepared for the agricultural production will be used in rational and sustainable way, for the urban and rural agriculture. Those laws generated more than 160 000 new employment s to people of the most varied origins including workers, bricklayers, mechanics, housewives, pensioners, professionals, etc.

In August 1st of 2009 aroused a new project called “Suburban Agriculture”; its main objective is to guarantee the more intensive possible use of the lands surroundings all towns and cities of the country. This new project is supported by the Law-259; this law grants the delivery of unproductive lands to the people interested to work on them.

The urban agriculture in Cuba has become in an autochthonous system, in which  an entire series of  knowledge and technological advances of the ecological agriculture has been applied,  that also impacted the concept of alimentary sovereignty that Cuba become into the key of the country agrarian policy.

Productive achievements of the Urban Agriculture in Cuba

  • The Urban Agriculture produces around the 75% of the vegetables and fresh condiments of the country.
  • In 2007 589,000 ton of fruits were obtained.
  • 12,000 ton of pig farming meat is added to the annual national production.
  • The lamb and goat meat production’s reaches 76,000 ton per year.
  • 566 million eggs per year are obtained without use industrial fodder.
  • More than 500,000 American dollars are saved with the horticultural seeds import replacement.
  • More than 5,000 infection focus generated by non-authorized waste deposits  in more than 200 cities and important towns of Cuba have been eliminated in the last ten years, and have been transformed into organopónicos and intensive orchards.

The following tables shown the production of vegetables per year achieved in Cuba through the Urban Agriculture program:

































Key factors for the development of the urban agriculture

In order to maintain and increase the current development of the urban agriculture in Cuba, it’s essential to focus the attention to the organization and practice of several activities such as: land fertility’s conservation and handling, the improvement of the systems to control plagues and illnesses, the technology advances in cultivations and animals breeding, and the sustainability of the urban agriculture.

Land fertility’s conservation and handling

The productive potential of the food production’s areas, either for the cultivations and/or animals upbringing, it is in direct relationship with the land fertility level. For this reason it is indispensable the application in periodic way of organic matter to the lands that allows the return of the nutrients extracted by the previous crop and kept the require fertility to obtain high yields in the next sown.

The urban agriculture‘s sustainability

The organic bases of the urban agriculture don’t guarantee their sustainability by themselves. For that reason it is necessary reach the highest level of rationality in the development of the productive systems. A common example is the use of the crop’s residuals and non-sellable parts to feed the livestock, in exchange for the use of the livestock’s manure to enrich the cultivation’s soil.

A group of indicators allows the increase of the sustainability levels of the urban agriculture; we can name the following ones:

  • Organic matter gathered, processed and applied.
  • Local self-sufficiency of seed and animal breeding.
  • Species, varieties and races selected according to the local conditions.
  • Animal - Cultivation Integration.
  • Efficiency in the use of water.
  • Prevention of plagues and illnesses.
  • Cost per weight produced.
  • Increase the technical skills of the producer through instructing activities.