In last week’s post, I described our day trip from Havana to Pinar del Rio, the tobacco-growing region in the west of the island of Cuba. That was also the day that deepened our understanding of the current state of agriculture in Cuba. In a word: struggling.

Tobacco barn, Cuba

Tobacco barns are so tall because the leaves are dried over the rafters of the building.

Cuba imports something like 80% of its food while millions of acres of arable land has been overtaken by marabou, an invasive weedy shrub from Africa.

Pinar del Rio

Dramatic landscape dotted with small farms

Small farm, Pinar del Rio, Cuba

The red iron-rich soil of Cuba is good for growing tobacco and other crops.

We saw tractors in Cuba, but they were all being used for hauling, either material or people. When we saw field work being done, it was with animals, usually a pair of oxen.

Cuba has emphasized education, but that has a downside. Once you’ve educated your young people, how are you going to keep them down on the farm? Especially if you’re still farming with oxen.

A more exciting route for young farmers are organic vegetable farms where the produce is sold directly to the consumer. Cuba doesn’t have much access to modern agriculture chemicals, due to the embargo. So, they are looking to make a name for themselves in organic food production. The farm that I wrote about last week represented a bright spot in modern Cuban agriculture.

new Weekend Cooking logoCheck out today’s Weekend Cooking links for more foodie posts from around our kitchens to around the world.

Here are my previous posts about Cuba, most with photos for Saturday Snapshot at West Metro Mommy Reads:


Agriculture in Cuba #SaturdaySnapshot #WeekendCooking — 14 Comments

  1. You are really educating your readers about Cuba. When I have time, I’ll be reading your other posts. Thanks!

    best… mae at

  2. What gorgeous photos! And I had no idea that Cuba was still plowing with oxen. Buuuuut, yes, jumping on the organic bandwagon seems like a great idea.

  3. I am learning so much about Cuba from your posts. Primarily, it’s sad – the conditions of the land. But, I’m glad you shared that bit of hope they have with the organic farms. Overall, I’m impressed with the beauty of the island.

  4. I’ve read a few books about modern life in Cuba but they all focused on life in the city for young people. I know nothing about the problems of agriculture there. The organic farming sounds like a smart potential solution for the country and the industry itself. It’ll be interesting to see where that goes. I didn’t know about marabou. I guess in terms of invasiseness it’s similar to the kudzu we deal with in the South?

  5. The countryside looks beautiful. Do you have any recommendations for accomodation (in any of the towns or cities)?
    We’ve booked our flights but are still trying to work if we should do a tour then do some self-guided stuff or do all self-guided trips.

    • We did a tour so everything was arranged. Our Havana hotel was Hotel Capri — decent rooms, interesting mid-century architecture. Our casa particular in Trinidad was owned by the artist Yami Martinez, but I don’t know the name of it.

  6. Another interesting post and the photos are so beautiful. Here’s hoping they can work the organic food production angle and use that to grow. Thanks for sharing. 😉

  7. I love traveling with you! Wow, what great shots. I love the tobacco barns but the scenery….Cuba is indeed a gorgeous place. One day my hubby and I will have to visit there. Thanks for sharing your trip.

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