The Cuban government should stimulate the development of mixed farms via systematic and consistent policy measures, as they perform much better in the current conditions than specialized cattle farms.
Until 1990, Cuba had a specialized and intensive agriculture which was highly dependent on the import of raw ingredients from abroad. Labor productivity was high, but agriculture inefficient and polluting. As a result of the collapse of the Soviet Union, this agriculture model fell apart. Since then, decentralization and diversification have occurred: besides specialized agricultural cooperatives, mixed farms developed and new farmers started.
A case study showed Funes-Monzote that a combination of cattle farming and agriculture will yield better company results than cattle-farming alone. The yield of grass for the cattle on the specialized farms tended to fluctuate heavily, whereas the combination farms also introduced grains, root crops and new types of rough feed. Not only did that result in income from agriculture, the mixed farms also realized a more constant supply of cattle feed, leading to increase in milk production per hectare, according to Funes-Monzote. More research at 93 companies, spread all over the country, confirmed this idea. / Albert Sikkema
Fernando Funes-Monzote will defend his Ph.D. thesis on 14 October with prof. Herman van Keulen, full professor at the Plant Production Systems group.