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Urban agriculture in Havana’s home gardens and small-scale plots

Student does research on the ground in Cuba for her master’s thesis on urban and peri-urban agriculture

By Marion Girard Cisneros
One World


My research findings are initially disappointing. Small-scale urban farmers are partially able to decrease the share of the income they spend on food. The sustainability of self-sufficiency depends on farmers’ ability and capacity to cope with structural constraints posed by urban pollution and insufficient access to water and land. In other words, almost in every case, household food production does not confer high levels of food security.

But the crux of the matter is that UPA has a significant potential in securing other households needs, which can be traced to the attitudes of the farmers. On the one hand, high levels of human capital resources available to farmers (agricultural skills, knowledge of the local environment and resourcefulness) results in to higher output levels (be it in fungible or real income) and lesser dependence on external inputs.

This can be considered as an achievement considering that, since 1959, the socialist State has centralized the task of food distribution, discouraging self-sufficiency be On the other hand, in the Cuban context, where fifty years of socialism have forged a propensity for reciprocal trust and connectedness between individuals, farmers genuinely contribute to the enhancement of neighbourliness. They tend to put their social capital not only at the service of improving their productive plots but also at the service of improving their surrounding community. Just like Magalys does when she says she does not claim money to her “supermarket visitors”.

Read the complete article here.


1 Curtis { 10.19.12 at 6:54 am }

How many more masters thesis’ do we really need on urban ag. Just start a farm for god’s sake!

2 Marion Girard Cisneros { 11.11.12 at 3:34 am }

Thank you for you comment. I am very proud I wrote my thesis on urban agriculture and I encourage every student in fields related to international development to do the same. Researching, learning and becoming aware was the best premise I could ask to become a better activist, which I believe is not only about growing vegetables in my balcony but also about supporting the movement of urban agriculture in my city or raising awareness in my surrounding environment.