Hope for Haiti Lies in the Hands of Farmers
Written by Plant With Purpose on February 17, 2010 in General
“There is still hope in Haiti. There is still opportunity in Haiti. All you have to do is look into the eyes of the men, women and children whose resilience over the past months has inspired the world,” said Cheryl Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in her recent article, The Importance of Agriculture in Confronting Hunger, Poverty, and Unemployment in Haiti.
Everyone’s talking about the best way to rebuild an earthquake-tattered Haiti richer, better and stronger. I have been excited to read numerous articles emphasizing the great opportunity for Haiti—and those of us working in Haiti—to address the root causes of such daunting problems as miserable poverty, widespread hunger, and massive unemployment.
In Mills’ article she writes about the vital need for food security in the rebuilding of Haiti, especially as thousands relocate from crumbled Port-au-Prince to rural areas. She highlights the critical role agriculture will play in establishing food security and contributing to the future health and prosperity of the nation. In fact, the United States’ aid efforts to Haiti will focus on “investing in agriculture as a key mechanism to tackle poverty, the root cause of food insecurity and under-nutrition.”
Revitalizing Haiti’s agriculture sector will not be an easy task. According to Mills there is an abundance of challenges, including: “small farms; limited mechanization; low yields; soil erosion; limited access to agricultural inputs; scarce credit; high post-harvest losses; and poor or non-existent rural infrastructure.”
That’s where we come in. For 13 years Plant With Purpose has been working to improve agriculture in Haiti by transforming the lives of rural farmers. Plant With Purpose’s earthquake recovery plan specifically addresses many of the challenges named by Mills. Short-term employment teams will plant trees and apply soil conservation techniques to combat soil erosion and restore small farm plots to productivity while giving desperate farmers immediate income. Additionally, farmers will be provided with crop seeds and tools—agricultural inputs—to increase their crop yields this planting season. Coupled with Plant With Purpose’s ongoing work of teaching sustainable agriculture, granting access to credit, and empowering communities to take ownership of their problems and work collectively to implement creative solutions, Haitian farmers will become vital agents in the revival of Haiti’s agriculture sector.
There is still hope in Haiti. And it is in the very farmers Plant With Purpose has the privilege of calling partners and friends.