About This Project

Student journalists visited farms to learn about agriculture in Cuba (Photo by Katrina Ruggiero).

Cuba produces less than 30 percent of its own food, and boosting agricultural production has long been a priority of its socialist government, which has redistributed land and given farmers more control of what they grow and where they sell it.  At the same time, as tourism in Cuba has surged, especially since the détente between President Obama and Raul Castro in 2014, new challenges beset Cuba’s environment, the most biodiverse in the Caribbean. Rising sea levels add to the threat. In January, a team of Baruch College journalists traveled to Cuba (for the third year in a row), this year to report on sustainable agriculture and environmental issues.

The 2017 student reporting team enjoyed a dinner in Havana (Photo by Andrea Elmenhold).

The articles and photos appearing here reflect the complexities of and tensions between economic development and environmental sustainability, as well as other dramatic changes under way.


We’d like to thank a number of people who helped make our trip possible and who deserve our heartfelt gratitude. At Baruch, Aldomaro Romero Jr., Dean of the Weissman School of Arts and Sciences, encouraged and facilitated our efforts. Dr. Richard Mitten, Director of Study Abroad, and his staff; Boo Choi, Director of Administrative and Financial Services at the Weissman School; and Irina Laskin, Vice President for Administration and Finance, all helped make the trip possible. Our former colleague, Prof. Paula Berggren, provided financial support. Our colleagues Vera Haller and Joshua Mills and Glenda Hydler, the journalism assistant, couldn’t have been more supportive. We also thank Benjamin Long, the editor-in-chief of Dollars & Sense, for his helping in getting this material ready to publish.

From outside the college, our special thanks go to Dan Whittle, Senior Attorney and Senior Director, Cuba Program, at the Environmental Defense Fund, who provided continuing support and insights for our students. We also thank Ana L. Porzecanski, Director of the Center for Biodiversity and Conservation at the American Museum of Natural History, who gave our students a private tour of, and introduction to, the museum’s Cuba exhibit, as well as Fiona D.J. Bayly, her assistant. Finally, a special thank you to all the experts and other Cubans who gave so generously of their time and expertise while we were in Cuba.

Andrea Gabor, Bloomberg Chair of Business Journalism

Christopher Hallowell, Professor Baruch College/CUNY

Much of the reporting took place outside Havana, but the student journalists had ample time in Old Havana (Photo by Yulia Rock).