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
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.
Coffee used to be Haiti's main agricultural industry; the country is also one of the Caribbean's oldest and original coffee producers. Yet Haitian coffee has been overlooked and unrecognized in the world market. This is due to the difficulty in entering Haitian coffee to the international market, as well as the lack of benefits given to local coffee growers, thus a decline in local production. But recently, new light and hope has been given to the country's declining coffee industry.
The Haitian government, in partnership with Saint Thomas University, launched the Café COCANO Fair-Trade Coffee Project five years ago and has since been able to help boost Haiti's coffee market and assist local farmers in production and compensation. This project is also in partnership with the Cafeiere et Cacouyere du Nord' Ouest Coffee Cooperative, Pascucci Torrefazione, an Italian coffee roaster, and the University's Center for Peace and Justice.
Understanding the vulnerability in which the Haitian population is today in regard to high cost of food, the Haitian government has reacted by creating a price stabilization Commission. In addition, the government has ordered 300,000 bags of rice in order to affect the current price of rice in the market.
The 300,000 bags of rice is expected to be injected immediately into the market in order to reduce the price of rice. The Martelly Lamothe government informed the public that they will continue to follow this policy every time they see an increase on price of rice.
President Michel Martelly, as part of his ambitious agenda to engage all sectors of the Haitian population, inaugurated the People Canteen Tet Kale in Créole in Carrefour on July 27, 2012. Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Ronsard St-Cyr joined Martelly. Together they were there to initiate a dialogue of goodwill with the community and demonstrate their commitment to improve the quality of life for the underserved population.
At the People Canteen, located on 4th Avenue Bolosse, President Martelly and Minister St-Cyr stood behind the line and served nutritious meals to school-age children. Then they joined the children at tables and chatted with them about what they wanted to be when they grew up. Later Martelly and St-Cyr handed out soccer balls to screaming and excited children, who asked Martelly if he would play with them. Martelly replied he would do something even better, he would show them a few soccer-ball tricks.
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