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  • Hugh Locke + Timote Georges

Calling for the Agricultural Revival of Haiti


Photo taken this morning of SFA farmers in Haiti doing maintenance on a field of leeks.

It is hard to imagine, based on current headlines, but for much of the 19th century Haiti was known for its agricultural innovation and high rural productivity. Thousands of African Americans immigrated here, attracted by a unique agricultural approach called jardin lakou. This was an agroforestry system that combined trees with a diversity of crops planted together on small plots of land and operated as smallholder family farms. It incorporated many of the farming practices that are part of the new regenerative agriculture methodology that today represents the cutting edge of sustainable agriculture globally.

 

It is remarkable indeed, given what the country is going through, that one of the world’s first regenerative cotton crops was harvested last year by a group of SFA farmers in Haiti. We are now introducing this regenerative system to all 7,200 of our farmer members as they grow beans, maize (corn), rice, okra, onions, cabbage, and a range of other crops.

 

While the country’s current crisis has to be resolved first, the international community should be preparing now to support a Haitian-led agricultural renewal with goals that include food sovereignty. It makes no sense, in a nation of farmers, that the rural population which once grew most of Haiti’s food must now watch from the sidelines as the country imports 82% of its rice, all its cooking oil, and more than half of all food consumed by the population.

 

The key issues around agriculture were outlined two years ago in an Open Letter About Food Aid to Haiti that was addressed to “Development Aid Agencies and International Institutions” and signed by 50 of the leading organizations providing a wide range of services in agriculture, healthcare and community development throughout the country. Although the letter went unanswered, the recommendations remain relevant and include:

 

  • We ask that long term aid directed at Haiti be used to support the estimated one million smallholder farm families to become more productive, climate-smart and integrated with healthcare initiatives to promote nutrition as a key to improving health and wellbeing; and


  • We ask that all international aid be coordinated more directly with national and regional Haitian authorities, that clear delineations of responsibility be identified within that new coordination process, and that our respective organizations have the opportunity to both inform and help implement programs in agriculture, healthcare and community development resulting from this more inclusive consultative process.

 

The main points of this open letter were subsequently incorporated into a letter signed by 41 Members of the U.S House of Representatives and addressed to the Administrator of USAID, noting that the grassroots Haitian organizations referred to in the letter remain hopeful for the "opportunity to both inform and help implement aid-based programs."


SFA farmer members harvesting cabbage last week in Haiti.

The SFA’s work with over 7,000 farmers throughout Haiti over the past 15 years has convinced us that there is an astonishing untapped resource that could turn the nation once again into a model of agricultural innovation and high rural productivity.

 

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Hugh Locke, President, SFA 

 

Timote Georges, Executive Director, SFA

 

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Alex Reynolds
Alex Reynolds
7 days ago

I feel strongly about it and love finding out more about it. If you could, as you learn more, would you mind adding more information to your blog quordle


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