By special guest blogger: Ezili Danto
Haitian women play a central role in Haitian agriculture30 years ago, Haiti grew all the rice it needed. Recently, former President Clinton apologized for forcing corporate agribusiness subsidies on defenseless Haiti during his term in office. This destroyed Haiti's rice production and forced Haiti to now import more than 80% of its food, leading to Clorox hunger, starvation, despair and death, not to mention overcrowding in Port au Prince when peasants where forced off their land in search for sweatshop jobs in the capital. Yet, today, under the rubric of "Haiti Relief", USAID is pushing corporate seeds on Haiti. This new twist to agricultural dependency will not help Haiti. Monsanto, through USAID's WINNER program has tied itself to the money pool for corporate fertilizers, herbicides and pesticides required to plant its corporate seeds. This is not a gift but a large biotech company entering the false benevolence game of USAID in the name of 300,000 dead earthquake victims. Corporate seeds are not sustainable development for Haitian women in Haiti. Solidarity with Haiti would mean USAID would stop using raised funds to purchase foreign subsidized rice, dump it into Haiti destroying Haiti's agriculture; would stop using donation and tax-payer dollars to purchase big agribusiness products while denying Haiti's domestic food sovereignty. The money US tax payers are footing to help Haiti should be helping Haiti, not Monsanto, USAID "experts" salaries, shipping companies and such others. The only sustainable solution is to assist in supporting Haiti's national food production, consumption and local distribution. (See, Ezili/HLLN links at Rich countries use trade deals to seize food from the world's hungriest people and Economic proposals that make sense for the reality of Haiti - The Western economic model doesn't fit an independent Black nation.)
"What would it take to transform Haiti's economy such that its role in the global economy is no longer that of providing cheap labor for sweatshops? What would it take for hunger to no longer be the norm, for the country no longer to depend on imports and hand-outs, and for Port-au-Prince's slums to no longer contain 85% of the city's residents? What would it take for the hundreds of thousands left homeless by the earthquake to have a secure life, with income?
According to Haitian peasant organizations, at the core of the solutions is a commitment on the part of the government to support family agriculture, with policies to make the commitment a reality.
Haiti is the only country in the hemisphere where the majority is still rural. Estimates of the percentage of Haiti's citizens who remain farmers span from 60.5% (UN, 2006) to 80% (the figure used by peasant groups)." (For complete article, go to: Agriculture and Haiti's Long-Term Future: An Analysis by Beverly Bell)
* "The Lambi Fund - Sowing the seeds of independence
Rural Haitians are caught in a vicious cycle of poverty...Many Haitian peasants are forced into unfair sharecropping agreements with wealthy landowners because they lack the capital and resources to start out on their own.Seeding grassroots change
Lambi Fund of Haiti is donating high-quality seeds to two women's peasant organizations to help them build seed banks for their farming communities. This is a gift that keeps on giving...
Paired with this project, Lambi Fund will hold a series of regional trainings to further empower rural communities to overcome discrimination, to fight for their rights and use their skills to change discriminatory government policies.
- In the past five years, Lambi Fund has supported 100 peasant-led projects that trained over 12,500 people in sustainable agriculture, animal husbandry, reforestation and leadership skills.
- Lambi Fund's activities have impacted over 150,000 community members, many during the hurricanes in fall 2008.
others. Life is still hard for me, but I am hopeful… I have my own business and my children will not starve. —Fifine Jean Louis, recipient of a Lambi Fund micro-loan"
This project has taught us how to protect our fields and the surrounding mountains so that we have more crops, cleaner water and less erosion. Through Lambi, we have the power to make better lives for ourselves. —Farmer" (Source: Fighting Hunger From the Ground Up by American Jewish World Service)
How to Start Helping Haiti- WHAT CAN YOU DO?1. One way to help food sovereignty in Haiti and sustainable agriculture is to support the Lambi Fund's work. Go to: How You Can Help 2. Take Action: Stop intro corporate seeds to Haiti 3. Tell Congress: Fund Local Food for Haiti 4. Knowledge is power. Understand why sweatshops don't work and why Haiti's workers - rural and urban- need your solidarity: Poverty-Wage Assembly Plants as Development Strategy in Haiti and Rebuilding Haiti - the Sweatshop Hoax (Betrayal of Haiti's majority by Liberal Democrats); Ezili/HLLN links at Rich countries use trade deals to seize food from the world's hungry... ; Economic proposals that make sense for the reality of Haiti - The Western economic model doesn't fit an independent Black nation, 2007 by HLLN.)