Sowing seeds of change - institiontal change in Cuban agriculture

Last changed: 24 May 2023
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Calle Lindkvist and Lisa Hedborg, Agriculture - Rural Development programme (BSc)


Cuban agriculture is marked to great extent by the islands complicated and somewhat rocky history. Going from Spanish colony to American semi colony to thereafter break away in the revolution. Only to then once again be dependent on foreign countries, this time the Soviet block. However in present times Cuba has been forced to stake out its own way following the Soviet collapse. These political relationships have had its influences on agriculture, from a capitalist industrialised agriculture to a collectivised industrialised one. The greatest change was moving away to a low-input agroecological approach in the 1990s. Today change is yet again harbouring on the island as the country is entering a post-Castro era. Foreign markets are opening up, a choice are appearing for some farmers, to go conventional or continue with agroecology. But as we observed and interviewed farmers on the island the old institutions are still making themselves heard. Institutions of bureaucracy and inherent work mentality are perhaps to path dependent from the Soviet era to change? Or are farmers, such as the ones we visited, able to act as drivers of change on a grass-root level. Our thesis focuses on analysing these Cuban agricultural institutions, finding empirical evidence for their existence and how they can be noticed on a farm-level. Furthermore we discuss how these institutions may or may not be changed due to external events such as Covid-19 and path-dependency.



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