To Editor of NY Times Opinion:
Re “Already Desperate, Haitian Farmers Are Left Hopeless After Storm” (news article, Nov. 18):
As you point out, the devastation of Haitian agriculture by drought, storms and floods comes on top of years of neglect of the rural areas. Despite the importance of agriculture as an employer and a contributor to the overall economy, both the Haitian government and the international community have not made it a priority until quite recently.
It is not just a matter of more investment, as imperative as that is. The Haitian government needs to ensure a coordinated approach, so that all actors engaged in agricultural development are working to advance a coherent strategy.
The government and aid donors must also consult much more closely with Haiti’s farmers, including female farmers, on the design and implementation of rural development activities. Without these crucial considerations, farmers will be repeatedly vulnerable to natural disaster, and Haiti’s most promising industry will never thrive.
Country Director, Oxfam America
Port-au-Prince, Haiti, Nov. 19, 2012
1 thought on “Helping Haiti’s Farmers”
Ms. Etienne, Ou gen rezon,wi! Hunger is an equal opportunity employer. And women, as well as men, who “vann journee,” or till their own small plots here and there throughout hillsides, need to be at the table in such discussions. My effort to bring one person to NYC to speak at the Haitian Studies Association Conference Nov. 9-12, 2012, was stymied by the U.S. Consulate, who refused to provide a short visitor visa for my colleague, who had been invited to speak. His visa was denied as he did not have enough money in a Haitian bank, nor did he own a car…(Never mind, he had a milet epi yon kat-karo te planted in pwa ak mayi..) Small farmers, such as Ti Eli and Madame Vab, are not running big operations – they rarely have any surplus to sell. There have been some great ideas recently by a former Zafen consultant, to work with China and cultivate more bamboo, and “retire” other fields, let the land “re-boot,” so to speak and provide training to peasant farmers while the bamboo matures. Bam,boo can be made into textiles, and China may be encouraged to start production in Haiti. A good idea, and much better than relying on chance and the dole, and Oxfam. And by the way, peasant farmers – men, women and children, in Zornje zone, 6eme seksyon, Leogane, sou tet mon, are on the verge of starvation – and they lost their homes, and no tents in sight. If you can help, please Contact community leader Elisee Abraham at 509 373 52178? Mesi anpil anpil…
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