Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Why such strong opposition to the USDA peanut plan?

On the surface, the US Department of Agriculture (USDA)’s plan to ship 500 metric tons of peanuts to malnourished Haitian children may sound great. Those familiar with Haitian agricultural and economic history, however, are strongly opposing this program because shipments of rice to Haiti in the 1980s and 1990s all but destroyed the Haitian rice market. Many, including IJDH, have written letters and made statements on the risks of the USDA plan but right now, the USDA says that it will still make the shipment before school starts in the fall. Can continued advocacy stop this plan from going through? Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text and audio. The US wants to give peanuts to malnourished Haitian kids. Why is that a problem? Amy Bracken, PRI’s The World May 11, 2016 For those unfamiliar with Haitian history […]

Why is everyone so worried about USDA’s peanut shipment to Haiti?

When the US Department of Agriculture announced a plan to ship surplus US peanuts to Haiti to feed malnourished children, there was an immediate and prolonged backlash. From Haitian farmers to economists to human rights groups in the US, many spoke out urging the USDA to reconsider, especially given the devastating impact US shipments of rice had on Haiti’s rice market and farmers. While the plan may sound generous on the surface, the USDA doesn’t seem to have done any market analysis or sought to make this plan sustainable without interfering with Haitian peanut farmers’ livelihoods. Part of the article is below. Click HERE for the full text. Dumping nuts Raymond C. Offenheiser, The Hill May 11, 2016 It’s a classic case of good intentions gone bad. The US Department of Agriculture (USDA) is planning to dump 500 metric tons of […]

Haitian Farmers Fight Back Against Monsanto

By Peter Constantini, IPS News PÉTIONVILLE, (IPS) – Haitian farmers are worried that giant transnational corporations like Monsanto are attempting to gain a larger foothold in the local economy under the guise of earthquake relief and rebuilding. “Seeds represent a kind of right to life,” peasant leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste told IPS. “That’s why we have a problem today with Monsanto and all the multinationals who sell seeds. Seeds and water are the common patrimony of humanity.” Earlier this month, in the central square of Hinche, an agricultural town in Haiti’s Plateau Central region, a mass of small farmers wearing red shirts and straw hats burned a symbolic quantity of hybrid corn seed donated to Haiti by the U.S. agricultural-technology giant. They called on farmers to burn any Monsanto seeds already distributed, and demanded that the government reject further shipments. The […]

How Foreign Aid Hurts Haitian Farmers

By ADAM DAVIDSON and CAITLIN KENNEY, NPR Morning Edition Click here to listen Sebastien Narcisse, Students in a makeshift classrom in l’Artibonite, Haiti. L’Artibonite, a Haitian town two hours north of Port-au-Prince, wasn’t damaged in this year’s earthquake. But the foreign aid that flowed into Haiti after the quake has been a blow to the area. Most of the people in l’Artibonite earn their living by growing and selling rice, Haiti’s staple food. But the influx of foreign food aid has meant that many Haitians can now get rice for free. As a result, the price of rice in Haiti has plummeted. Mirana Honorable, a rice farmer, has to choose between selling enough rice to pay for her children to go to school, and having enough rice for her family to eat. Adam Davidson/NPR, Mirana Honorable and her daughter, in their home in […]

Food Aid Hurts Haiti’s Farmers

By Steve Baragona, Voice of America Helping in a crisis can pose dilemma for local farmers and merchants Photo: VOA – S. Baragona, Rice farmers can be adversely affected by food aid. About three hours north of Port-au-Prince, the Artibonite Valley is the center of Haiti’s rice production. This season, farmer Charles Surfoad is storing his rice rather than selling it. He says food aid from the earthquake relief effort produced a glut that pushed down prices.  If he sells now, he says he’ll lose money. Adverse effects “Food aid is never good for us,” he says. “As a farmer, I’m one of the first affected. You can’t send that to a country where that’s what they grow.” Surfoad says if he can’t sell his rice, he won’t have money to buy seeds for next season. And because he supplies […]

HAITI-US: Washington aid policy may be shifting

From IRIN Former US President Bill Clinton, now a UN Special Envoy to Haiti, has pledged to foster the country’s self-sufficiency after expressing regret for implementing policies during his administration that damaged its agricultural capacity and ability to feed itself. “That’s what we’re doing now,” he said on 31 March, pointing to efforts to spur coffee and mango production. It was a hopeful sign for those who have long advocated changes in the way the US government delivers food to developing countries. Clinton told the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee on 10 March about his administration’s role in exporting US-subsidized foodstuffs to Haiti, taking advantage of lower tariffs set as a condition on loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank. Among the items was US rice, which was cheaper than the home-grown variety and contributed to the […]

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