When Cuba faced the shock of lost trade relations with the Soviet bloc in the early 1990s, food production initially collapsed due to the loss of imported fertilisers, pesticides, tractors, parts and petroleum. The situation was so bad that Cuba posted the worst growth in per capita food production in all of Latin America and the Caribbean.
But the island rapidly re-oriented its agriculture to depend less on imported synthetic chemical inputs and became a world-class case of ecological agriculture.
This was such a successful turnaround that Cuba rebounded to show the best food production performance in Latin America and the Caribbean over the following period, a remarkable annual growth rate of 4.2 per cent per capita from 1996 through 2005, a period in which the regional average was zero per cent.
Much of the production rebound was due to the adoption since the early 1990s of a range of agrarian decentralisation policies that encouraged forms of production, both individual as well as cooperative ...