Agroecology in Cuba

Interdisciplinary Field School in Agroecology – Institutionalizing Agroecology in Cuba, Successes and Challenges

The three-week Cuba Field School in Agroecology will be based out of the National Institute of Agricultural Sciences in San José de las Lajas, Cuba. It is open to students from all disciplinary backgrounds. This 0.5 credit course will be of particular interest to students interested in International Development, Crop Science, Environmental Studies, Environmental Governance, Organic Agriculture, and Rural & Agricultural Development.

Cuba Field School Course

Students in field

The course will provide students with an opportunity to learn about the theory and practice of agroecology in Cuba. It will involve direct interaction and exchange with a wide range of actors, including Cuban producers (from cooperatives, state farms, and urban agriculture sites), researchers, extension experts, students, government officials, and NGO representatives. Themes that will be highlighted include:

  • Theoretical underpinnings and key practices of agroecology;
  • How agroecological food production can contribute to increasing social and ecological resilience, adapting to a changing climate, achieving food sovereignty, and improving livelihoods for small-scale farmers;
  • The historical development of Cuba’s agricultural sector prior to the Revolution;
  • Agrarian reforms in post-Revolutionary Cuba;
  • Impacts of the fall of the Soviet Bloc on Cuba’s economy and agricultural sector;
  • State policies supporting the development of agroecology in Cuba;
  • The role of non-state actors in developing agroecology in Cuba;
  • The structure of Cuba’s present day agri-food sector, and projections for the future;
  • Social, economic, and ecological benefits of agroecology;
  • Constraints on agroecological development, and the role of more conventional production methods; and
  • The relevance of the Cuban case for other regions in Latin America, for Canada, and for other parts of the world.

 

 

Field School Details

Group photo of Cuba Field School Students

Instructor: Dr. Erin Nelson (enelson@uoguelph.ca)

In-country facilitator: TBA

National Institute of Agricultural Sciences, Cuba

Prerequisites: 7.5 credits, 70% cumulative average, and permission of the instructor

For more detailed information about the program, please contact lblenkin@uoguelph.ca

Program Dates

May 2016. In addition to the field schedule below (which is subject to some change) there will be 2 days of pre-departure content and post-field debriefing.

Field Course Schedule (subject to modification)

Week 1: Cuban History, Society, Economy, Politics and Agriculture

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Orientation;

Cuban History

Cuban Society & Culture

Political Economy in Cuba

Cuban Agrarian Development (pre 1959)

Cuban Agrarian Development (post 1959)

Field trip to Las Terrazas Nature Reserve, Los Palacios Research Station, and Soroa

LUNCH BREAK

Visit to Agrarian University of Havana

Visit with San José de las Lajas local historian

Trip to Old Havana

Tour of Las Papas Research Farm

Free afternoon (optional trip to Havana)

GROUP CHECK IN & REFLECTION

Week 2 Principles and Practices of Agroecology

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Introduction to Agroecology

Agro-ecosystem Evaluation

Soil, Seeds, Crops, and Yields

Water and Pest Management

Food Distribution and Sales

Field trip to Playa Girón and Cienfuegos

LUNCH BREAK

Meetings with representatives from: Ministry of Agriculture, National Association of Small Farmers (ANAP), Cuban Association of Agricultural & Forestry Technicians (ACTAF), National Centre for Agricultural Health (CENSA)

Free afternoon (optional trip to Havana)

GROUP CHECK IN & REFLECTION

Week 3 Learning in the Field

Monday

Tuesday

Wednesday

Thursday

Friday

Saturday

Sunday

Visits to high external input farm & biocontrol production facility

Medium scale agricultural production; participatory plant breeding project

Visits to small-scale subsistence farms

Urban & peri-urban agriculture tours

Visits to distribution & sales sites, including farmers’ market

Field trip to Varadero

GROUP CHECK IN & REFLECTION

Eligibility

Students applying for the program must have completed a total of 7.5 undergraduate credits by the time the program begins in May 2016.

The program is open to students from all disciplines at the University of Guelph, with a maximum of 20 students being accepted to the program.

Costs

Students should budget for the following:

  • Field costs - $1600 (estimated cost and subject to adjustment). This includes room and board in Cuba (including weekend field trips), in-country transportation, and other incidental in-country fees.
  • Tuition and fees for 0.5 credits at University of GuelphStudents in Cuban field learning about agroecology
  • Personal expenses (including souvenirs, additional excursions, etc.)
  • Round trip airfare to Cuba

Apply to the Cuba Field School

Students interested in applying to the Cuba field school must apply using an online application. To receive access to the online application you must first attend a Study Abroad Information Session with the Centre for International Programs. Once you have attended an information session you will receive access to the online application.

Please note: You must have a 70% cumulative average to apply to the Cuba Field School.