Urban Argriculture and Special Administrative Regions in Cuba

Alexa van Sickle: Cuba and food security

Cuba has begun lending unused land to farmers and co-operatives to boost food production. Photograph: Javier Galeano/AP

Cuba has begun lending unused land to farmers and co-operatives to boost food production. Photograph: Javier Galeano/AP

“Of the series of economic reforms that Raul Castro has implemented since assuming the leadership – many of them incremental – the agricultural sector has perhaps seen the most change. In 2007, 45% of arable land was sitting idle. In 2008, Castro allowed private farmers and co-operatives to lease unused land from the state with decentralised decision-making, and loosened regulations on farmers selling directly to consumers. Since 2010, Cubans with small garden plots, and small farmers, have been allowed to sell produce directly to consumers.”
– Alexa van Sickle: Cuba and food security: Alexa van Sickle in IISS Voices, 12 March 2014, http://www.iiss.org/en/iiss%20voices/blogsections/iiss-voices-2014-b4d9/march-2013-cd5b/cuba-food-security-624b , last viewed 12 Marc 2014.

This review on The International Institute for Strategic Studies’ (IISS)* web-page is of an article by the same author published in “The Guardian”. The strategy the Cuban government is following reminds me of the gradual reforms begun in China by Deng Xiaoping during the 80’s and 90’s (See: ger: Sonderverwaltungszonen; en: Special Administrative Regions; zh: 特別行政區 Pinyin: tèbié xíngzhèngqū – Article in German. The English language article is rather scant, and somewhat inaccurate). The strategy of pilot projects in economic liberalization, and gradual implementation of market reforms, has spared central and southern Asia the utter disorientation and alienation of vast segments of the population that we are still experiencing as a result of the somewhat gung-ho handling of the socio-economic, ideological, and political “turnaround” of the late 80’s early 90’s in Europe.

The article also touches on the topic of urban agriculture, a topic that is also of interest to some in “Western” cities if under entirely different premises. For those of us who are interested in the topic however, it may none the less be fruitful to see if there is anything we can learn through watching this very ambitious project unfold.

*The International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) is a London based organization whose existence came to my attention while listening to an interview with senior statesman Chancellor Helmut Schmidt (FRG Chancellor 1974–1982). Chancellor Schmidt’s whit, and the immeasurable scope of his knowledge are awe inspiring and have earned my deapest respect, and veneration. IISS web-site is always worth a glance: