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The Bashing
of our
Natural Resources

 

  Haiti... Vision 2053

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November 18, 2009

To our members, friends, donors, and visitors,

Please, pass it on!

The bashing of our natural resources and/or the slow killing of the Haitian agricultural production
Dr. Harry-Hans Francois, Ph.D., N.D., CNC., Dip-CFC., LMHC

January 2009

        The republic of Haiti, throughout its history of independence, has mainly known various periods of financial difficulties, some instances of undernourishment/starvation, and many governments of modern despotism and social upheavals, which are clearly detrimental to its march towards individual and collective advancement. Yet, it has somehow prevailed and also has found ways to feed its inhabitants at least until the low 80’s. Consequently, it has mainly survived through some foreign aid programs and/or with the proud contribution of Haitian farming’s products such as sweet potatoes, coffee, cocoa, manioc, yams, mountainous and/or lagoon rice, bananas, mangos, cultural black pigs, naturally-fed animals and birds. However, Haiti’s today is facing a multitude of serious cases of famine and food scarcity, which were being aggravated by a prolonged bashing of the Haitian agricultural production, the Gonaives’ tsunami (2004) and the destructive passage of the 2008’s hurricane season. These two last natural calamities, added to a few local and international policies implemented during the 80’s, 90’s and the early 2000’s, clearly amount to the existing problems of Haiti.
        In assessing this present agricultural production in Haiti, it makes sense to get acquainted with some of the politico-economical policies, which were being undertaken and even imposed on the throat of the poor Haitian consumers by the World Bank, USAID, and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) toward Haiti during the 80’s. Here are some published excerpts about this lamentable situation. A report, brought to light by the Organization of United nations, which covered at least eleven years (1991-2002) of malnutrition/undernourishment and famine around the world, pleads in favor of the necessity for a sound nutrition program in Haiti. This report places Haiti and Mozambique on top of the list, thus 1
st and 2nd orderly, per percentage of population, which has not gotten and/or received the minimal caloric level recommended by the world’s nutritionist – approximately 2,500 calories to 3,000 calories based on age and daily activities of the individual. It goes further by arguing that the percentage of the population being affected by this endemic situation remains as follows: 65, 3% during the year 1991, a total of 59, 4% in 1996 and finally a total of 47, and 2% during the year 2002(millenniumindicators.un..org/unds.mifre/m_results.asp). These numbers, regardless of the assessing eyes, clearly indicate that this particular situation is lamentable in Haiti.
        Other experts focused on Haiti’s exports have objectively pleaded their case about a situation of despondency in this island. They have argued that Haiti has lived and still lives very highly on heavy daily exportation deals coming mainly from Dominican Republic, United States, and Taiwan. The Dominican newspaper “Dominican Today” (Jan.09) made a case about the gradual elimination of manufacturing of basic products in Haiti since the year 1986. This article states that Haiti was the third (3
rd) largest Dominican exports market during the year 2006… More than one hundred forty seven million (147,000.000.00) US dollars have been pumped into the Dominican economy during that year by Haiti alone.
Other researchers meant to be more specific by linking very strongly this potential famine and some governmental policies, which have been instituted during the last twenty eight (28) years. Georges J. (2004), in a case study titled “Trade and Disappearance of the Haitian Rice”, contends that rice imports outpaced domestic rice production since the 70’s… In the year 2000, Haiti has imported a total of 219.590 metric tons of US rice while its local production for the same year sums up to 130.000 metric tons – a decrease of 64.000 tons in local production when compared to the year 1985.
  Georges also argues that this situation displaced many Haitian farmers, traders, and millers whose employment opportunities are extremely limited…Two factors are identified are being the most significant causes for the decline in Haitian rice production…They are the Adoption of Trade Liberalization policies and the Environmental Degradation… The Haitian market is now flooded with US rice imports (Miami rice) and some have even accused the US of dumping its rice in Haiti… The impact of the decline of the rice production in Haiti has been devastating to its rural population which is already poor.
On the other hand, William Steif, a researcher for the World Bank, seems to see the situation under a little more political scope than economical. In an article titled “Haitian Hell … A government gone awry”, which was published in 1985 in the Multinational Monitor, he made the point that agriculture has slowly and inexorably deteriorated for thirty (30) years in Haiti and per capita agricultural production has declined regularly… On top of that, high production costs rises because of unutilized capacity, poor management, outdated equipments, lack of global competitiveness, difficulties to export and/or to sell cause “Excessive Dependence” on imports of the intermediate products that the Haitian consumers need to get by every day (Steif, Haitian Hell, The Multinational Monitor, 1985). Coincidently, many experts on world’s hunger contend that most of the third world’s poor families have been plainly bashed and baffled by the international financial brokers who, purposely, would design malicious assistance package, which aim to conquer foreign markets, and force their policies into the throat of the governments in poor countries such as Haiti, Central America, Africa, East Asia, etc.
     
        They mainly do so by instituting aid food programs such as the PL 480 Title I, II, and III sales to these poor countries. Such “aid programs” are given on easy credit terms for resale to local livestock industries as feed, and to local food-processing companies who make pasta, bread, cooking oil, and other products for urban consumers with the condition that participating governments make policy changes as spelled out in the “covenants” of the aid agreement signed with USAID. Most of the experts in this business agree that Title I has created immediate markets for the U.S. corporations and also a great deal of dependency on the part of the recipient countries. Researchers such as Lappe, Collins, and Rosset even question the nature and the real beneficiaries of such aid programs. They contend that the recipient countries come to depend on these foreign food supplies by encouraging the growth of poultry farms, wheat mills, and soap and vegetable-oil factories. PL 480 helps create a Structural Dependence on Continued Imports. These researchers further argue that Title I food aid first of all puts money in the pockets of giant grain corporations like Cargill, who provide and ship the products and secondly supports factory-style poultry producers and food processors, and finally helps shift away consumers tastes in recipients countries from locally grown crops toward wheat products like bread and pasta (World Hunger, twelve myths, 1998).
        In reality, these policies of conquering the targeted foreign markets and those of cultural re-programmation would greatly benefit the foreign power suppliers such as some big American agricultural entrepreneurs, the Wall Street, the IMF, and some local and foreign dealers such as Cargill, Alberto, etc. Ironically, the Original Sin and blackmailing do not remain unpunished. Consequently, social upheavals and/or civil war always burst out in these recipient countries whenever things do not go their ways. At the end, a prestigious exit becomes imminent and a sacrificing lamb is needed in order to save face. And as a result, the old political protégé of these powerbrokers would be crucified, which is often times portrayed by the international press as being the “sudden prodigal son and/or the lone corrupted element” of the entire deal. For all the reasons of the world, he must be expelled from the power that he once held.
     
        Thus, one can now apprehend the rationale behind the elimination of the Haitian “Dark- Skinned Pig, the politics of governmental tariff’s change, and the sudden closing of Ciment d’Haiti, Minoterie d’Haiti, Acierie d’Haiti, Huileries d’Haiti, Beurrerie du Sud and the HASCO, which took place during the late 80’s and the actual scarcity of alimentary and basic products. In today’s Haiti, a great majority of the population prefer to consume foreign alimentary products, good or tainted, over the few remaining local ones. It does not matter where they come from, as long they do not see any Haitian label on them. In reality, the original dark pig - used for “griot”- has been replaced by the new pig fed on imported products. The same is also true for the original local peanut butter and chicken which has being replaced with the “frozen cadaver-chickens and turkey”.         The presence of different brands of local rice is rare to be found in the local market and remains even acidic to the bud taste of this contemporary Haitian population. Not much bananas, coffee and cacao to export, exception is only made for the mango. Very poor qualities of hot dogs and cereals have replaced local meals. And the drama continues until the commercial and educational leaders of Haiti decide to search for a better approach to the current crisis.
        Having well sought the problem, I now comprehend why poor farmers and consumers in Haiti and in many other third world countries remain caught in a timorous box and in between the high costs of chemicals and imported farm inputs and low crop prices after they have gotten accustomed to exotic and synthetic lifestyles of consuming habits, which were clearly imposed by various international powerbrokers in complicity with some local partners.
  Ironically in Haiti, high unemployment and costliness of daily livings closely walk hands in hands, if not dangerously, with the complex issues of scarcity of local alimentary production. Not surprisingly, these two derivatives, coupled with soil erosion and also with other natural disasters that Haiti experiences from time to time, explain the bashing and the slow killing of the Haitian agricultural production. And one must predict that Haiti, like many other poor countries in this planet, will probably continue to face economic despondency and social upheavals for a good number of years, if better policies would not be implemented soon. May those who really care, listen!

 

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Mr. Parnell Gerard Duverger, Chairman

Centre Louverture pour la Liberte et le Developpement

 

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  • Ing. Verlane Jean Louis, New York
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  • Haitians In Transits, Inc. New York
  • Maryse Etienne, Toulouse, France,
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The Haitian Consortium is a nonprofit, grassroots alliance organization committed to helping Haitian communities achieve economic sufficiency. The Haitian Consortium fosters strategic alliances with grassroots movements, community programs, neighborhood associations and religious organizations in the United States and the Caribbean in order to achieve its goals.

 

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HAITI ........ VISION 2053