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Smallholder Farmers Alliance Blog


The Mystery of Disappearing Foreign Aid to Haiti: Where Did the Money Go? 

Tent camp in the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince following the 2010 earthquake. Photo
by Sebastian Petion.

In a new report from the Center for Economic and Policy Research, authors Jake Johnston and Alexander Main set out to track the $1.15 billion pledged to Haiti by the U.S. government following the January 2010 earthquake. They found that the "vast majority" of the money went straight to U.S. companies and NGOs, with only 1 percent going directly to Haitian companies. I would like to contribute to this discussion by sharing an excerpt from my book “The Haiti Experiment” in which I set out to track how $13 billion was spent in the 29 months following the earthquake. This is the total amount of money from all sources, including the U.S. and other countries, that was actually spent assisting Haiti. And like Johnston and Main, I content that most of that money ended up back in the countries it came from—in the hands of private contractors and NGOs.

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Debate on Food Security and Deforestation Becomes a Global Call to Action

By David Rothschild / Skoll World Forum

A few weeks ago the Skoll World Forum hosted an online debate on how increased global consumption can be balanced with sustainability. The debate asks how a rapidly growing world that is ever consuming can hope to feed everyone, and at the same time address the deforestation that is emitting massive amounts of carbon into the atmosphere and destroying the world’s greatest tropical forests. Many contributors made very strong points—even contradicting one another in their approaches and ideas.

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President Clinton Visits Smallholder Farmers Alliance in Haiti

President Bill Clinton and members of an agricultural investment delegation
being given a tour of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance tree nursery in Haiti by SFA
President and co-founder Hugh Locke (right). SFA photo by Sebastian Petion.
Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) tree nursery near the Haitian city of Gonaives was one of several sites visited by President Bill Clinton earlier this week as he led an agricultural investment delegation of key executives and investors to highlight the country’s agricultural sector.

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The FAO Must do More to Promote Food as a Basic Human Right

Green shoots … Roadside vegetable stalls in Mumbai. The FAO is placing a renewed emphasis on food security as a human right. Photograph: Punit Paranjpe/Reuters

By Olivier De Schutter / Guardian Poverty Matters Blog

Should the UN's leading food security agency prioritise helping countries boost their agricultural production with subsidised chemical fertiliser, or promote ecological farming practices? Should it help countries protect themselves against import surges, or open them to the global marketplace? Should it work exclusively with national ministries of agriculture, or demand inter-ministerial and civil society participation?

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Charcoal Making 101

Philippe is typical of farmers throughout Haiti who supplement their income by producing charcoal.
The pile of wood in front of him will sell for around US$10 as charcoal when he is finished.

We all know that Haiti runs on charcoal. I ran across a farmer last week in Haiti who agreed to show me how it is made. He introduced himself as Philippe. In front of him in the photo above is a pile of wood he had gathered, and next to it is a pile of green leaves. His technique was to put the leaves on top of the wood and then add a thin layer of earth on top of that. Philippe then made a small hole at the base of this construction and lit the fire, explaining that it would continue to burn for two to three days. The combination of leaves and earth makes the enclosure into a kind of kiln so that the wood, because of the high heat and minimum oxygen, turns to charcoal rather than to ash. Philippe told me he expects to get around US$10 when he sells the resulting charcoal in the local market. 

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How Agroforestry Schemes Can Improve Food Security in Developing Countries

Agroforestry has the potential to significantly improve food security in developing countries. Photograph: David J Slater/Getty ImagesCaspar van Vark / reprinted from Guardian Professional

Agroforestry – the integration of trees and shrubs with crops and livestock systems – has strong potential in addressing problems of food insecurity in developing countries. Done well, it allows producers to make the best use of their land, can boost field crop yields, diversify income, and increase resilience to climate change.

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Food Insecurity in Haiti

A field of beans in Haiti. SFA photo by William Charles Moss.

There are close to 10 million people in Haiti, 6 million of whom live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. There are an estimated 600,000 farms in Haiti, and all but 3 percent of those are small-scale operations with an average of 1.5 hectares, or just under 4 acres. With a ratio of one farm for every 100 people, Haiti has one of the highest farm-to-population rates in the world. Logic would suggest this is enough farms and farmers to feed the nation, and up to the mid-1980’s that was the case. But Haiti now imports close to sixty percent of all the food it consumes. At the same time farmers are suffering because they can’t compete with the flood of cheap imported food, much of it subsidized by taxpayers in foreign lands.

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Planting Trees in Haiti With the Smallholder Farmers Alliance

Click image to download pdf version of this photo essay.

The Smallholder Farmers Alliance plants one million trees a year in Haiti. We have put together a photo essay that tells the inspiring story of how 2,000 small-scale farmers and their families go about planting these trees. Through images, we show how they grow the trees in nurseries and then transplant the seedlings onto their own and community land. The trees are used for food, timber, soil stabilization, fodder and fuel.

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