By Beverly Bell
Jonas Deronzil is a farmer from the village of Mogé in Haiti’s fertile Artibonite Valley, and one of about 2,000 members of a production and marketing cooperative. Here he analyzes the problems Haitian small producers face, notably U.S. food imports, and proposes alternatives. ~ Beverly Bell
I am a peasant planter, that’s all I do. From 1974 when I got out of school, I attached myself to my hoe so I could earn my bread. I’ve been farming for 36 years. My parents were planters too, my whole family going all the way back.
Before the 1980s, farmers could work on the strength of their courage. But since 1986 especially, when Jean-Claude [Duvalier] fled, through the government of [Gen. Henri] Namphy in 1988, rice has fallen flat in the country. The cost of everything is rising. The cost of manual labor is rising. They’ve had to leave a lot of their land fallow. What you harvest, you can’t sell for enough money to cover your costs. Peasants have had go to Port-au-Prince. That’s one of the causes for the expansion of slums throughout Port-au-Prince. Peasants are discouraged, the government doesn’t do anything to encourage their production.
Since foreign rice has invaded Haiti, we plant our rice but we can’t sell it. The foreigners have all the possibilities: they have water, they have machinery, they have easy access to fertilizer and other inputs. They can grow their rice in quantity. The peasants, poor devils, we spend a lot to grow it, but we can’t sell it. Sometimes we have to go to the loan sharks just to get enough money to survive.
We had a bad rice harvest this year, we didn’t get a lot of rice. We were already in a black misery by the time all the cast-off rice came here after the earthquake of January 12. But with the rice they’re dumping on us, it’s competing against ours and soon we’re going to fall into an even deeper hole.
Read full post at World Pulsestitute for Policy Studies.