Located in the western Caribbean Sea, Cuba is one of the largest Small Island Development States (SIDS). The country ranks relatively high in the 2015 United Nations Human Development Index, at 68 out of 188 countries. In 2015, Cuba was home to 11.4 million people, 23 per cent of whom lived in rural areas.
In 2013, the agricultural sector accounted for about 18 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) and employed 940,000 workers, approximately 20 per cent of the workforce. Due to undercapitalization and a lack of technological innovation, the agricultural sector has untapped potential. Currently only 2.6 million out of 6.3 million hectares of cultivable land are in use.
Low levels of productivity in the agricultural and livestock sectors are attributed to decreasing investments over the years, limited technical assistance services, land degradation, and the effects of climate change and variability.
As a result, local food production is insufficient to meet demand. Cuba is currently importing around 80 per cent of its food requirements.
In addition, according to the World Food Programme (WFP), decreasing dietary diversity and poor dietary practices have resulted in increasing rates of anaemia and other micronutrient deficiencies.
Until the agricultural sector improves yields and realizes more of its productive potential, Cuba will continue to require significant imports to satisfy its food needs.
IFAD recently resumed operations in Cuba after more than a 20-year hiatus. Given the challenges the agricultural sector faces, IFAD is serving as one of the country’s strategic partners, contributing to the ongoing modernization process.
Cooperatives in Cuba are the key actors in ensuring food security, as they represent 80 per cent of the country’s agricultural production. The Government of Cuba has expressed interest in re-establishing the partnership with IFAD with a view to modernizing agriculture.
This will be achieved mainly through developing non-state smallholders business cooperatives. IFAD will provide technical assistance through its projects to increase the physical, human, social and environmental assets of cooperatives.
A significant part of IFAD’s commitment to develop Cuban agriculture involves capacity-building activities, which will reinforce the cooperatives’ institutional solidity, thus supporting them in sustainable production and business management.
Key activities include:
- increasing strategic crop production and productivity, mainly for maize and beans – two essential components of the Cuban diet – and improving living conditions for poor rural people;
- supporting the sustainable growth of the livestock sector by increasing the production and sale of milk and meat; and
- strengthening smallholder cooperative organizations.
- Cuba has a population of 11.4 million, of which 23 per cent lives in rural areas.
- The agricultural sector has potential that is not being exploited, and therefore Cuba currently imports around 80 per cent of its food requirements.
- Approximately 20 per cent of the Cuban labour force – some 940,000 workers – is employed in agriculture.
- IFAD recently re-started operations in Cuba after more than 20 years.
- Since 2013, IFAD has committed a total of US$22.6 million from its own resources in two programmes related to agricultural development in Cuba. In addition, it has mobilized funding by a Spanish Trust Fund (EUR 20.8 million) and of the Agence Française de Développement (EUR 25 million), benefiting 24,500 households.