Historical Transformations and Future Directions
Agriculture has historically been a vital component of the Cuban economy, but in the form of commercial export crops, above all sugar. Ángel Bu and Pablo FernÁndez argue that this sector of production still has underutilized export potential that is important to exploit as one part of building the long-term foreign-exchange balance that Cuba needs. Much more important in the short term, however, is agricultural production for domestic consumption. Above all, this means food, whose importance is expected to be reinforced as international food prices continue to rise. Food security is important for three reasons. First, Cuba still imports a large amount of the food it consumes, which limits the foreign exchange available for developing the Cuban economy. Second, food is increasingly being used internationally as a political weapon, and hence the issue of food sovereignty (a country’s ability to meet its own food needs) as a necessary component of national sovereignty has become a topic of international discussion in recent years. Third, and in the final analysis the most important for Cuba, increased domestic food production is important for Cuba’s central goal of constantly improving its population’s well-being, especially given the rising costs in international food markets.
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