First Person: Cultivating Haiti’s Future |

“The earthquake that hit southwestern Haiti in August mainly affected rural populations, and obviously farmers were very affected.

Many lost their homes and their grain and seed stores which collapsed in the earthquake; some farmers’ lands have also been damaged by landslides. In some cases, cracks could be observed as the ground opened up.

FAO supported Jeremiah’s farmers long before the earthquake, but our work here is more important than ever. Agriculture has always been extremely important in the fabric of Haitian society.

UN Haiti / Daniel Dickinson

FAO’s Myklerange Balmir, outside the town of Jérémie.

The bridge

The bridge out of the city was damaged and trucks can no longer pass, so it has become very difficult for farmers to sell their products in large markets like the capital, Port-au-Prince. Their grains and vegetables literally have to be carried across the bridge on foot if they are to be exported.

Then there is the security situation in Port-au-Prince, where entry and exit roads are blocked, so even though trucks may exit Jérémie, goods may not reach the city.

Thus, a lot of food has been wasted as it is impossible to sell to consumers in other parts of the country. As a result, many farmers lost money and are now more vulnerable than before. And all the goods that come to Jeremiah from elsewhere are more expensive, so the cost of living goes up for everyone.

In Jérémie, we encourage the local production of food for local consumption as well as the cultivation of seeds.


The bridge to Jérémie is closed to vehicles after being damaged in the earthquake.

UN Haiti / Daniel Dickinson

The bridge to Jérémie is closed to vehicles after being damaged in the earthquake.

women’s cooperative

We support a women’s agricultural cooperative, a group of 63 women who work the land together to harvest a variety of organic vegetables. It is the beginning of the season and today they are planting tomatoes and hot peppers which will rub shoulders with the cabbages.

They share the harvest, eat what they need and sell the rest in town where they can get good prices. You can watch the women cross the bridge with the produce stacked in baskets on their heads. They don’t need to spend money on transportation. And all the money they save can be invested in the savings bank that FAO helped them set up.


Member of the peasant association, Pierre Ybert, works alongside other members planting black bean seeds.

UN Haiti / Daniel Dickinson

Member of the peasant association, Pierre Ybert, works alongside other members planting black bean seeds.

Organic seeds

FAO also formed an association of 120 farmers in Jérémie to grow good quality organic seeds for their own use and also for distribution to other vulnerable farmers, many of whom lost their stocks in the earthquake.

Producing seeds is a very technical process, so these farmers have become specialists. This season they are planting black beans, but they are also good at growing corn, cassava and potatoes. FAO will buy the majority of the seeds and so the hard work of one farming community will benefit others, especially vulnerable communities.

This approach builds resilience and helps farmers recover from a natural disaster such as an earthquake. This region has also seen its fair share of hurricanes and droughts, so it is important that farmers are well prepared.

I like working with farmers; they are still attached to their land. They work hard and fight despite many setbacks. They believe in the future of Haiti and I am proud to support them in their development.

Source link