The Cuban farming system is very diverse. However, despite the trade barriers and stringent economic conditions, the productivity of Cuban farms has increased through the combined efforts of scientists and farmers in developing and applying technological solutions. The reliance on biological products made from indigenous resources began in the eighties and this provided the technical foundation which expanded in the nineties when the country had limited access to high quality imported inputs. The low cost natural biological techniques which were developed as substitutes contributed to the maintenance of the ecological integrity of Cuba’s natural resource base and led to environmentally friendly sustainable agricultural production systems. These biological techniques are still being applied today.
Family farming, commonly considered old-fashioned, resistant to change and unable to effectively respond to market opportunities, is now gaining recognition as a viable model for the future of agriculture in the ACP region (SOS Faim, 2004). In family farming systems, the family is the centre of planning, decision making and action taking, operating within a network of relations at the higher community level (Mazzucato et al., 2001). The close link between (extended) family labour and farming activities has important implications for the variety of crops grown, livestock reared and management practices adopted. Apart from food production for food and income security, family farms have an environmental and social function that is essential in maintaining agro-ecological integrity, and socio-economic development while contributing to improving the well-being of rural communities within a context of social cohesion, solidarity and sharing of responsibilities and income.