When the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) announced its plan to ship 500 metric tons of peanuts to Haiti, a peanut-producing country, there was an immediate backlash. Although the 500 tons only represent 2% of Haiti’s current peanut production, there are other issues: The plan targets Haitian schoolchildren, though they are not the ones most affected by malnutrition. The plan paves the way for foreign peanuts to be sold in Haiti, which would undermine Haitian peanut farmers, leaving them unable to sell their crops and feed their families. Finally, the plan doesn’t address the underlying problem of a massive surplus of peanuts being produced in the United States. Haitian peanut farmers don’t need this kind of outside help. The hunger crisis would be better addressed by buying Haitian crops to feed the people.
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U.S. plan to dump peanuts is a potential disaster, aid groups warn
Tom Murphy, Humanosphere
May 3, 2016
The announcement that the U.S. will ship 500 metric tons of packaged, dry-roasted peanuts to Haiti later this year has been met with a swift backlash. The program amounts to a goods dump that could cause more harm than good, more than 60 Haitian and U.S. organizations warned, calling it “a plan of death” for Haiti’s farmers. It hearkens back to policies during the 1980s and 1990s where U.S. goods flooded markets in developing countries and crippled domestic industries.
“We are extremely concerned that the proposed USDA peanut program will destroy the incomes of vast numbers of Haiti’s rural families, rolling back years of progress and hard work by Haitian farmers. The U.S. should focus any aid to Haiti on supporting local production and local procurement,” according to the open letter to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). “We therefore call on you to immediately cancel plans to ship U.S. peanuts to Haiti; and instead to prioritize a model of cooperation that respects the self-determination and economic independence of the Republic of Haiti.”
The deal led by the USDA will bring the peanuts to children with little access to food. It is being described as a humanitarian program that will help to cut hunger and improve nutrition. The peanuts come from government food stocks surpluses, and a program started in 2007 allows for the transfer for humanitarian reasons. The peanuts will help feed nearly 140,000 malnourished children, according to the USDA.
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