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

People in Haiti are not getting enough to eat

We all know the immediate dangers of hurricanes and tropical storms. The high winds and heavy rainfall can cause loss of life and infrastructure on grand scales within a short time. But, there is a latent danger to the weather phenomena which can prove just as costly to life when finally manifested. Most recently, the efforts of Hurricane Sandy, a storm which some say seemed particularly bent on bringing down trees, and Tropical Storm Isaac, caused such virulent flooding in the country, the southerly regions especially, that an estimated 90% of the harvest has been lost.

This has undoubtedly left such a food deficit that, according to the United Nations' relief wing, one and a half million people are faced with 'severe food insecurity'. Ironically, drought, as well as the floods, also plays a significant role in the shortage of food. Information from The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) also point to a rise in the rate of malnutrition affecting 7 out of 10 departments since October. They have on record almost 82,000 malnourished children under 5 years old. It's further said that one in every five households is faced with the threat of acute malnutrition and the U.N. believes that Grande-Anse in the far west is among the worst hit places.

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First Community to Receive Food Aid in Derac, Haiti

Haiti is on the verge of a national food crisis. Ministry of Public Health and Population has issued warnings to government of Haiti (GOH) an impending food shortage is threatening to afflict millions of poor Haitians across the nation. In response, GOH, with help from welfare-assistance agency, Ede Pép, is starting a food-canteen program.

Its first beneficiary, Derac village, received a visit from Minister of Social Affairs and Labor, Charles Jean-Jacques, in April. Accompanied by Northeast Departmental Delegate, Charles Hugo, they handed out food-pantry items to slightly more than a thousand inhabitants of the community. A food canteen serving one hot meal a day will follow as soon as Petrocaribe releases funding to Ede Pép.

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Bill Clinton at the head of an Agricultural Investment Delegation

Former US President Bill Clinton acts as the United Nation's special envoy to Haiti. His duties have taken him on two trips to the country so far this year. First, in January, he came for the 3-year anniversary of the devastating 2013 earthquake, which took place shortly after his tenure started. His latest visit, a two-day event that consisted of site visits and a donation announcement, on March 10 & 11 saw him accompanied by a nearly two-dozen strong delegation of potential investors from the restaurant, perfume and lingerie industries.

During his visit, he spoke about the controversies and misfortune faced by the country, but stressed that Haiti is still replete with 'staggering potential.' It's a sentiment also expressed by Haitian President Michel Martelly who's 'Haiti is open for business' slogan was designed with luring potential investors from around the world in mind. While they are optimistic about foreign investments being the key to rebuilding Haiti, analysts at home and abroad warn that the country's flawed justice system and its archaic banking practices don't instill confidence in investors. Further concerns are the advisories by the U.S. government that warn potential visitors about concerns of health, security and a lack of proper infrastructure.

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Creole Pig, the bank account of the Haitian Peasant

The Haitian Creole Pig

There are many things that can be said that play on the Haitian peasant and the Creole pig, but there is true tragedy behind every punch line. In one of the government's single most devastating moves, done in the 1980's to placate the American's fear of a swine flu outbreak in the Dominican Republic contaminating their Pork industry, a nationwide slaughter of Creole pigs, noted to translate to 30% of the income of peasants, was undertaken.

Another serious misstep was the government's method of damage control. Seeing the devastation wrought on the livelihood of the peasant farmer, they attempted to replace what had been taken with American pigs from Iowa farmers. This too proved a failure, as the new breeds could not adapt to the inevitably harsher methods of farming, including but not limited to table scraps for food and no formal shelter.

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The agricultural system of Kombit in Haiti

Haitian President Michel Martelly involved in Kombit

A well known staple of Haitian culture and society the Kombit system allows, through the collaborative effort of members of the community, the cashless exchange of agricultural goods and supplies. The emphasis of the concept is the sharing of products in a communal sense, not selling for profit. This way is not conducive to exportation, as most of the produced items are consumed within the area in which they are produced.

Ordinarily, a farmer will announce a planned Kombit day, selecting one fit for planting a specific crop. Invitations are extended to as many as he can support and tasks are meted out based on ability--with men responsible for digging and heavy lifting, and sex--with women and children doing easier work such as planting seeds. The work becomes an even greater benefit to the community with the unity it provides through the singing and joke telling that accompanies a Kombit. Participants are fed three meals for the day and share in the harvest they have helped to plan and plant.

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Kombit Farming Keeps Communities Sustained in Haiti

Haiti, located in the Caribbean Sea on the western third of Hispaniola, is a country of extreme poverty for most of its inhabitants. Many farmsteads practice subsistence farming to provide for their families. A subsistence crop is one of inferior quality, for example, mountain rice. Its more nutritious relative, swamp rice, is consumed by the elite rich.

To meet needs of poor farming communities, peasant farmers have evolved a collective- sharing system of crop yields called Kombit. A practical method of community farming, it is predicated on the practice of sharing the harvest over selling it.

How does Kombit work:
At the beginning of the planting season, farmstead owners gather a large workforce from the farming community to prepare and sew their crops. The division of labor assigns men the heavier work of over-turning the ground, with women and children seeding the freshly upturned dirt. To pass the time, planters sing Haitian folk songs and regale each other with humorous stories or jokes. In lieu of wages, farmstead owners treat laborers to three stout meals.

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State-of-the-Art Communal Fishing Center Opens in Marigot

Marigot, a coastal village of Haiti, has just launched its new fishery, supported with funds by the Spanish Cooperation, in the amount of $90,000. In early February 2013, opening ceremonies were held to celebrate the event. In attendance were Jesus Gracia Aldaz, Director-General for Fisheries, Health, and Animal Production; Michel Chancy, Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Development; and agronomist Pierre-Guy Lafontant, Deputy Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development.

The fishery, the Communal Fishing Center, is part of a regional project that will eventually build four more fisheries in the Southeast Department.

Pierre-Guy Lafontant handled administrative duties of construction, while Project Manager Wilner Romain, an engineer-agronomist, oversaw the project. The fishery intends to be part of the plan to improve the economy of the Southeast Department.

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Haiti Seed Banks could benefit Farmers and Private Investors

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.

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Selling Land to multiple Buyers, a problem in Haiti

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.

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New Green Farming Center Promotes Sustainability Practices in Haiti

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.

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