What's going on with land-use in Cuba? Disparate data sets and the Cuban agricultural transition

Authors: Mario Reinaldo Machado*, Clark University
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Land Use and Land Cover Change, Cultural and Political Ecology
Keywords: Land use change, Cuba, agrarian transition
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 5:00 PM / 6:40 PM
Room: Governor's Room, Omni, East
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This article focuses on large-scale agricultural land use changes in Cuba following the fall of the Soviet Union. In response to the end of Soviet subsidies, which previously underwrote Cuba’s industrial agricultural system, the government rapidly transitioned from large, centralized agricultural operations to small-scale farming and cooperatives to address local food security. This transition entailed a radical restructuring of the social, ecological and economic realities of the Cuban agricultural sector with profound implications on landscape structure, livelihood practices, and food security, particularly at the household and community level. This paper uses a variety of empirical data sources, including remote sensing data available from the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), to unpack some of the land-use, livelihood and food security implications of this radical agrarian transition. Combined, these data shed new light on the magnitude and nature of agrarian land-use changes that have occurred over the past several decades in Cuba. The paper concludes by placing these empirics in the context of shifting geopolitics and the increasing impacts of climate change, issues of great concern to Cuba and other island nations in the Caribbean.

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