URBAN AND PERI-URBAN AGRICULTURE IN HAVANA

The capital city Havana covers an area of 727 km2, 0.67 per cent of the total area of Cuba. Its population growth is 1.8 per cent per year and it has about 2.2 million inhabitants, which make up 20 per cent of the Cuban population and 27 per cent of its urban population (DPPFA, 2000, Gonzalez Novo and Murphy, 1999). The average population density is 3014 persons/km2. In spite of the decentralisation policy that took place during the previous 40 years in favour of the inner provinces, Havana’s physical extension, its serv­ices and industrial infrastructure increased by threefold (Palet, 1995, DPPFA, 2000). In the year 2000 Havana still held 34 per cent of National industrial production, the main administrative and political departments as well as most of the spe­cialised healthcare, educational, and cultural serv­ices. Additionally, Havana is the centre of scientific activity and one of the most important foreign tourist attractions (DPPFA, 2000). The crises of the 1990s affected the employment indicators, though the recovery has brought new labour demands. There are also difficulties in Havana with the water supply infrastructure.

Agriculture in Havana, for example, is backed by an extension service that would be the envy of most of the world. The Ministry of Agriculture’s Urban Agriculture Department has a large number of extension officers to provide free extension and training services to the organic farming sector, vis­iting regularly, and encouraging and advising on the use of organic techniques.