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Growing greener cities - Havana

Author: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Publisher:Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
2014

Following the 1959 revolution, Cuba launched agricultural development programmes that made intensive use of agrochemicals and farm machinery. By 1980, when its population reached 10 million, the country was able to produce food for 40 million people. Cuba was also one of the world’s major producers of sugar, with annual exports of more than 550 000 tonnes. The collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991 deprived Cuba of its main trading partner and source of fossil fuel. That, and the United States’ trade embargo, ushered in what Cubans call the período especial, an extended economic crisis which led to food rationing and rising rates of malnutrition. With agriculture affected by shortages of fuel and of two key petroleum derivatives, mineral fertilizer and pesticide, Havana residents began planting food crops wherever space was available. At first, yields were low, owing to lack of farming experience and inputs. But with strong government support, urban agriculture was rapidly transformed from a spontaneous response to food insecurity to a national priority. In the process, Havana has added a new word – organoponics – to the urban agriculture vocabulary, and has also become a pioneer in a worldwide transition to sustainable agriculture that produces “more with less”.

Organization: UN agency
Region: Latin America and the Caribbean
Coverage: Cuba
Areas of focus: Food production and ecosystem management
Tags: Climate mitigation, Food security and nutrition, Urban and peri-urban agriculture