Conversion of specialised dairy farming systems into sustainable mixed farming systems in Cuba

F.R. Funes Monzote, M. Monzote, E.A. Lantinga, H. van Keulen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

27 Citations (Scopus)


From the 1960s onwards, a `High External Input¿ dairy production model was applied widely in Cuba. Overall milk production of the national herd increased considerably, but the system was inefficient from both a financial and energetic point of view. In the early 1990s, after the abrupt end of inflow of capital and other resources from Eastern Europe, the dairy sector collapsed. In the short term, the modern infrastructure of milk production deteriorated and the sector experienced profound vulnerability. However, in the longer term, this situation stimulated a search for more sustainable approaches, such as low external input Mixed Farming Systems (MFS). The current study aimed to evaluate two small scale prototype farms to assess the implications of converting `Low External Input¿ Dairy Farming Systems into MFS. Fifteen agro-ecological and financial indicators were selected and monitored over a 6-year period. Two configurations of MFS, i.e. the proportion of the farm area occupied by arable crops, were tested: 25 and 50%. Productivity, energy efficiency and cost-effectiveness all improved following conversion. Total energy input was low for both farms and decreased over time, whereas energy efficiency was high and increased over time. Human labour input was high directly following conversion, but decreased by one-third over the 6-year period. This study demonstrates, at an experimental scale, the potential of MFS to achieve ecological, productivity and financial advantages for dairy production in Cuba
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-783
JournalEnvironment, Development and Sustainability
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2009

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