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Smallholder Farmers Alliance Blog


Solar Micro-Grid Aims to Boost Power and Food in Haiti

A solar panel on the roof of a home in Les Anglais charges a battery for use at
night. Photo credit: EarthSpark.

Reprint from National Geographic by Josie Garthwaite

On Haiti's southern peninsula, the town of Les Anglais rises alongside a snaking river prone to seasonal swells. Some 400 homes and businesses form the downtown core within a wider community of roughly 30,000 people.

Most of them are among the 75 percent of Haitians, and the 1.2 billion people around the world, who live without access to electricity. But a new model for connecting homes and businesses to clean, reliable power using smart meters, solar panels, and a small, independent power grid is being put to the test in Les Anglais. The idea is to combine these ingredients into a recipe for sustainable economic growth—in part by supplying power to process local crops that would otherwise rot before arriving at markets. (See related story: "Five Surprising Facts About Energy Poverty.")

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Haiti hopes miracle moringa tree can help to combat malnutrition

Elius Supreme working next to a 'miracle' moringa tree in Haiti. Photograph: Courtesy TreeForTheFutureReprint from Guardian Poverty Matters Blog by Felix von Geyer

Rich in vitamins, potassium and calcium, Haiti is promoting the moringa tree to address the country's chronic malnutrition.

The poorest country in the western hemisphere, 75% of Haiti's population lives on less than $2 a day, half on less than $1 a day, according to the UN World Food Programme. It imports 80% of its rice and more than half of all its food, despite 60% of Haitians working in agriculture. An estimated 7 million of the 10 million population are food insecure and USAid estimates that up to 30% of children are chronically malnourished.

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Haitian Development Breakthroughs That Could Change the World

A few weeks ago I had the honor of delivering Fordham University's Fall 2013 Gannon Lecture. The venue was the United Nations, and the talk was titled, "The Haiti Experiment: Development Breakthroughs That Could Change the World." You can listen to it from an audio link and check out photos of the evening. 

The lecture began with an exposition of three development failures I encountered in Haiti, but which affect the whole of the developing world: devastating loss of tree cover, the intentional collapse of domestic agriculture, and the near-total bankruptcy of foreign aid.

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2014 Declared "International Year of Family Farming"

Reprint from International Year of Family Farming

The 2014 International Year of Family Farming (IYFF) aims to raise the profile of family farming and smallholder farming by focusing world attention on its significant role in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment, and achieving sustainable development, in particular in rural areas.

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FAO Links Farms, Forests and Smallholders

Benefits for smallholders include poverty reduction, livelihood improvement
and sustainable income.

Reprint from FAO

Strengthening  forest producer organizations should contribute significantly to reducing poverty, improving livelihoods and enhancing economic development of smallholder forest owners and farmers, FAO said today at the International Conference on Forest Producer Organizations, taking place in Guilin, China, 25-28 November 2013.

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Haitian Farmers Help Filipino Farmers Affected by Typhoon Haiyan

Eliette Pierre (in white shirt) and members of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance
presenting a check in support of farmers in the Philippines who were affected
by Typhoon Haiyan.

Yesterday a group of farmers from the Gonaives area in northern Haiti made a donation to assist their counterparts in the Philippines.

"We were very sad to hear that many farmers in the Philippines are suffering from Typhoon Haiyan, like we did in Haiti after Hurricane Sandy last year," said Eliette Pierre, a local farm leader and member of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance. "We want to tell all of you that the farmers here are praying for you and we are also sending a donation to help you recover from the storm damage."

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Farmer-to-Farmer Food Relief in Haiti

Jean-Robert Castin, representing farmers in Gonaives, giving rice, beans and
cooking oil to Ametide Estimable, a farmer in Terre des Nègres.
Today, in a first for Haiti, one group of farmers sponsored food aid for another group of farmers in need.

In July, community leaders from the small and remote farming community of Terre des Nègres, in Northern Haiti, wrote very polite letters to the U.N. World Food Programme (WFP) and the Government of Haiti requesting emergency food relief. "We have never before had to ask for help like this," the letters explained, "but we have never faced a situation where our own people are going hungry."

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GM agriculture is not the answer to seed diversity – it's part of the problem

Traditional farmer in Wollo, the northern highlands of Ethiopia, 2012. Photograph: Damian Prestidge/The Gaia Foundation

Reprint from The Guardian Global Development by Teresa Anderson

For thousands of years, farmers across the globe have skilfully observed, saved and bred a wealth of seed diversity, cultivating ever more crop varieties to deal with the challenges of farming. The need to save, exchange and pass seed on is so important to farming that it is embedded into cultural practices around the world to ensure future generations can have the seed diversity and complex farming knowledge they need to continue to grow food and develop crops.

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