Haiti: peasants march for a “real agricultural policy”

Thousands of Haitian peasants marched in the city of Hinche in the Central Plateau region on June 21 to demand that the government promote food sovereignty, the restoration of the environment and the development of an agriculture “adapted to the reality of our country.” “There needs to be a real agricultural policy,” protesters said, in distinction to current policies that encourage the importation of food, seeds and other agricultural commodities.

“Every day we see our neighbors giving up farming in the absence of any decent income,” said a longtime planter who gave his name as Jérôme. “Young peasants are very often discouraged by the lack of economic prospects [and] the prohibitive cost of land.” Another farmer, who came to the demonstration from the nearby town of Papaye, charged that competition from “agricultural commodities produced in the countries of the north in an intensive manner with enormous mechanical resources ruins food-producing agriculture that is respectful of human beings.” Camille Chalmers, an economist from the Port-au-Prince-based nonprofit Haitian Platform Advocating an Alternative Development (PAPDA), noted that the invasion of public land by private investors is also a threat for local populations, which are deprived of their means of subsistence.

The protest was organized by several grassroots organizations, including the Papaye Peasant Movement (MPP), which sponsored a similar demonstration in June 2010 against the “poisoned gift” of hybrid seeds offered by the US multinational Monsanto. Like last year’s protest, the June 21 march ended with a rally in Hinche’s Charlemagne Péralte plaza, where organizers distributed locally produced seeds and seedlings. (AlterPresse, June 22)

From Weekly News Update on the Americas, June 26.

See our last post on Haiti.