When hurricane Sandy caused colossal damage to Haiti’s agricultural sector last October, the Government and international donors stepped forward to provide seed and rice to help farmers recover from crop losses that ranged from 40 to 70 percent. One group of farmers, however, did not take part in that relief effort. Instead, they were able to pay for their own relief operation.
The 2,000 small-scale members of Alyans Ti Plantè-Gonaïves, the farm cooperative created by the Smallholder Famers Alliance near the Haitian city of Gonaives, lost an average of 40 percent of their crops. “The cooperative was able to use its own resources to purchase the extra seed needed by members to replant their storm-damaged fields,” said Timote Georges, Co-founder and Country Director of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance. “They also purchased close to a metric ton of rice for farmer members.” But rather than handing out this much-needed rice for free, women members who had recently repaid micro-loans were able to get new loans to purchase the subsidized rice and sell it to other cooperative members for half the going market rate. The cooperative took care of its own members without turning to any Government or donor sources for assistance.
“Everybody lost a lot of their crop,” said Junia Durogene when she took a break from unloading the rice she had just purchased from the cooperative with a micro loan, “and by selling rice at a discount to our members, it really is helping them out.” Tanael Jean, a cooperative member who was in line to buy the first 25-kilo bag of rice from Junia, added, “We did not have to wait for anybody to come and help us because the Alliance acted quickly.”