Agriculture and Food
We do our best to address all the problems related to agriculture and food. You will have the opportunity to discover some of the best Haitian dishes as well
Haiti needs a seed bank to avert a national food crisis. Statistics indicate in 2011 nearly one million inhabitants were severely under-nourished. Since then figures have escalated at an unnerving rate, and soon one-fifth of Haiti's population will be under-fed.
A seed bank contains fertile seeds sealed in receptacles at below-freezing temperatures. The frozen seed material thrives in this environment and can increase its viability indefinitely, by as much as centuries. Other advantages of seed preservation are they occupy a tiny amount of space, and can be processed in very large quantities. Seed banks are capable of great bio-diversity, allowing a variety of plant types to be grown from them.
Many reasons exist as to why reconstruction efforts in Haiti are dragging: pledges reneged on, mis-spending, and lack of transparency. The latest obstacle to reconstruction projects is leniency in Haiti's National Land Registry Office (NLRO) regulations.
The problem with land-registry procedures began in 1804, the year of Haiti's independence from French rule. Haiti's second president, Jean-Jacques Dessalines, urged land reform as part of his platform. But in intervening years up until the present, a loophole in the NLRO's procedural guidelines has indirectly caused stalled road reconstruction and other infrastructure projects in Haiti.
Protocol for land transfers includes inspection, notarization, and fulfillment of tax assessor requirements. Bypassing bureaucratic red tape and exorbitant fees, land owners have devised their own land-transfer strategies.
Agriculture is Haiti's most important but under-utilized resource. Not enough has been done to increase crop yields or exports in the world market. But a sustainability movement has started in some parts of the country, creating The Center for Rural Sustainable Development (CRSD), launched in Kenscoff. Present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony were Agriculture Ministers and Pamela White, U.S. Ambassador to Haiti.
The center will be operated by University of Florida sustainability experts, who will instruct farmers on greenhouse, drip irrigation, and vertical farming practices. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) has underwritten the project. Conceived as a modern teaching facility, instructors will show farmers best practices for green farming. They will teach them how to grow different crop types, operate the latest farm equipment, and become responsible stewards of the environment.
Ciguatera, which goes by the catch-all label of Copper Fish, make their home in tropical climates such as Haiti. A poisonous form of algae, ciguatera has been found in 400-plus types of fish living in waters near reefs. The ciguatera algae form on coral reefs, as well as seaweed and other kinds of benign algae. Small fish who feed on these plants ingest ciguatera, made up of several strains of toxins: ciguatoxin, maitotoxin, scaritoxin, and palytoxin. Ciguatera was first recognized as a dangerous toxin in 1774.
What happens once the plant-feeding fish ingest the toxins, they then become food for larger flesh-eating fish until it reaches the apex of the food chain in bigger fish: moray eels, groupers, trigger fishes, and barracudas. These are the fish caught, brought to market, and that end up on a family's table. The problem with ciguatoxin is that it has no odor, taste, and cannot by contaminated by the usual cooking methods.
Copper fish poisoning, caused by the ciguatoxin algae, traveling up the food chain from plant-eating to flesh-eating fish, enters the gastrointestinal tract, causing diarrhea and vomiting. It next attacks the brain, producing symptoms like muscle aches, numbness, vertigo, headaches, ataxia, paresthesia, and hallucinations.
Ciguatoxin is difficult to treat. It may clear up on its own or hang on for years. Drugs can manage symptoms, but no definitive cure exists. While in its active state, ciguatoxin must run its course, and care-givers are an important part of the support phase. Once the acute phase of the sickness has passed, medications can treat symptoms of sluggish circulation and piercing chest pains.
Copper fish are most often associated with a poisonous form of algae, ciguatera. Ciguatera flourishes on coral reefs as well as on benign forms of algae. The ciguatera toxin, ciguatoxin is most often found in tropical waters in places like the Caribbean. Once the toxin has reached the top of the food chain, fish now carrying ciguatoxin end up as the family's dinner. What makes ciguatera so difficult to recognize is it has no odor, taste, and is unable to be dissipated through normal cooking methods.
Ciguatera poisoning is often mistaken as multiple sclerosis. Patients go to the medical clinic with a host of symptoms, both gastrointestinal and neurological. Symptoms initially manifest in the gastrointestinal tract as nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea. Then the ciguatoxin travels to the brain, producing muscle aches, numbness, vertigo, headaches, ataxia, paresthesia, and hallucinations.
As part of his platform to decentralize government and create self-sustaining communities, Haiti President Michel Martelly officially launched the Baie-de-Henne fish farm, by releasing hatchlings at the Baie-de-Henne lake reservoir on July 20, 2012.
The Baie-de-Henne reservoir is among the latest hill-side lake to be incorporated into the National Program of Hill Lakes. It joins a series of recently opened hill-side lakes, now at 160 in the country.
The hill-side lakes' purpose is the raising of farmed fish and conservation of water resources, during the off-season of rainy weather. The hill-side lakes are a repository for crop irrigation and animal need for water during seasonal droughts. Besides the benefits of food self-sufficiency and conservation, the lakes also sustain the local ecosystem. Birds who inhabit these reservoirs feed on insects, which save crops.
Barbancourt is a popular rum produced in Haiti, considered one of the premier rums manufactured on the globe. French cognac maker, Dupré Barbancourt, came to Haiti and began rum production in 1862. Four generations of Barbancourts have run the family empire, beginning with Nathalie Gardère, Barbancourt's widow. She managed the operation along with Paul Gardère, her nephew, until her death. He took over production until he passed away in 1946. Surviving son, Jean Gardère, headed the operation until he passed in 1990. His son, Thierry Gardère, has been leading the company ever since.
By 1949, the Barbancourt Company had moved operations to the sugar cane plantation, Domaine Barbancourt, in the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac area. In the early 1950s, the profitable operation increased production, making the company a prominent manufacturer of premium rums.
Breadfruit is a fruit of the mulberry-tree family, and is associated with other fruits grown in tropic countries such as breadnut, jackfruit, and figs, among other tropic fruit varieties. Its growing season stretches from May to September. Its name is derived from the fact that when baked, it turns bread-like in color and mouth-feel. Considered a staple in Haiti, it is similar to rice, plantain, and coconut, also considered staples, and grown in other tropic climates.
Breadfruit, calorie-rich, contains carbohydrates, protein, vitamins, minerals, electrolytes, and phyto nutrients. As the fruit ripens, it releases fructose and glucose sugars. Good for the intestinal tract, it decreases cholesterol, and helps to prevent colon cancer. It contains anti-oxidant properties such as xanthin and vitamin C, with high levels of B-complex, most notably niacin.
When talking about breweries in Haiti, Brasserie National D'Haiti (BRANA) would surely come up. Why? Because it is the leading brewery and bottler, as well as the number one Caribbean beer producer in the country. Michael Madsen, a Haitian whose family was considered one of the richest clans that time, established BRANA in 1973. His family came to Haiti from Denmark in the latter years of the 19th century. For almost 40 years, BRANA has also been managing the production and distribution of PepsiCo International products in Haiti. It covers popular soft drink brands, including 7up, Pepsi, and Teem.
However, BRANA is much more known for the production of famous Prestige beer. Prestige is an American-style lager that has become the only native beer in Haiti. Most people in Haiti love it. As a matter of fact, Prestige is the best-selling beer in the country, claiming 98% of the market share. Given its popularity in the market and the sales it has been generating, Prestige won the World Beer Cup for American-style lagers in 2000. Five years later, the company also started exporting the product to the United States but to selected cities only.
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