When a wise Haitian said: “Sak vid pa kanpe doubout” [Empty bag don’t stand up], the pretending sophisticated listener will conclude: “Se pawòl peyizan” [That’s peasant talk]. That kind of comment is indicative of the arrogant indifference of those who feel superior because of various reasons. In fact, there are among those who, for the last 65 years, have caused the degradation of Haiti’s agriculture and the abandonment of their lands by over one million peasants who lost hope and courage in their arid, eroded lands, for lack of governmental consideration and support.
The disastrous result is that Haiti has lost its sustainable source of foreign currency exchange and become a population of consumers of imported goods, including basic foods that used to be the staple of Haitian alimentation. It should not be surprising to learn that innovative Haitians, stranded in the “republic of Port-au-Prince”, have selected some kind of dirt to bake something that look like biscuits to eat.
So, today, unless a comprehensive and well coordinated program of communal development that can revive the country’s agriculture for many years in the future, Haiti will become a no man’s land or a land where a few factory owners or managing directors will have a good life from the work of million others, who have no hope to ever come out of their laborious entanglement. It will be a modern version of the circumstances that motivated their ancestors to revolt, claim their freedom and establish an independent Republic.
Haiti should place itself in a position to claim its share of the plans that are under consideration to help the developing countries, primarily in Africa, to become self-sufficient. The governments of the rich countries have finally realized that it was less costly to help the poor countries developed themselves than to feed them with the overstock of the developed countries.
Where there is drought, there should be scientific ways to overcome this disastrous natural condition. Where mountain are to steep or eroded they can be converted into terraces, where anything could be planted. Agriculture terraces are easier to irrigate, to plant and to harvest. It has been reported that, “Since ancient times, farmers have built terraces to shore up a hillside, creating several levels of farms. In a small, seemingly inhospitable place, they can grow the crops they need to grow to survive.
Developing countries like Haiti should “learn from other countries who never stopped plowing, harvesting, and eating in a sustainable way”. For example, a country like Japan still remains a lot closer to its agricultural roots than other progressive countries. “Elementary school children take day trips to rice fields to practice planting and harvesting, and kitchen gardens are less of a novelty than common practice for many people. Walking through suburban or rural neighborhoods in the summer or fall it is easy to find a roadside shelf heavy with Welsh onions, potatoes, or squash”.
This kind of teaching was current at Damien School of Agriculture and in Haitian rural areas during the early 40’s. Currently, an organization called World Hunger Year (WHY) is convinced that solutions to hunger and poverty can be found at the grassroots level. WHY advances “long-term solutions to hunger and poverty by supporting community-based organizations that empower individuals and build self-reliance, i.e., offering job training, education and after school programs; increasing access to housing and healthcare; providing microcredit and entrepreneurial opportunities; teaching people to grow their own food; and assisting small farmers”. WHY connects these organizations to funders, media and legislators.
We are not in position to say “yeah” or “nay”. We can only call to the attention of those in charge what is done elsewhere to help abandoned population to revive and become productive for the benefice of the whole country now and in the future.
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