Chapter 6 : Transitioning to Regenerative Agriculture

The transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture can be a daunting prospect, especially for small farmers. It requires a considerable amount of education on the methods of regenerative agriculture and good land management and investment in new equipment. However, as seen above, the benefits are clear. Developed countries therefore need to adopt new policies and incentives to promote regenerative agriculture and make the transition from conventional to regenerative agriculture faster and easier.

Cuba is an example of a transition from conventional industrial farming to organic and more environmentally friendly agriculture. This was done out of necessity: after the fall of the Soviet Union in 1990, Cuba found itself short on oil-based products for agriculture like fuel, fertilizers, or pesticides, as well as heavy mechanization. Therefore, Cuba underwent a comprehensive agricultural transition and reform to reduce the outside inputs of its agricultural production and effectively institutionalized agroecology (Messina, 1999; Nelson, 2009; Wright, 2012). The result was a significant decrease in the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides while yields have recovered after the initial crisis in the early 1990s.

Today, Cuba has achieved food security (The Guardian, 2017; Riera, 2016) primarily through more environmentally friendly agricultural practices. In addition, expansion of private farms has shown that the agricultural yields can be improved further – private farms’ share of agricultural production is higher than their share of land use, even though they are typically allocated poor quality land (Riera, 2016). This indicates that the application of regenerative agriculture practices can significantly improve the productivity of agricultural land when access to investment, knowledge, and technology is available.