PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI- One of the most important economic sectors in Haiti is the agriculture sector. These farmers, most of whom live in rural areas, rely on their own production to survive. The farmers in northern Haiti are looking for ways to thrive in a changing world. The farmers are digging to find ways to feed their families and survive.
As it turns out, a large majority of the population is facing a hunger crisis, as indicated by the latest Integrated Food Security Classification Phase, which provides a comprehensive overview of food insecurity and malnutrition.
Farmers in the region have been receiving support from the Haitian government, the World Food Programme (WFP) and other partners because of a cycle of droughts and floods.
Several have received payments for working on projects that have strengthened their communities’ resilience. Farming is a way of life and crops are grown by farmers all over the world. They are eager to provide a future for their families. Here are three stories of farmers who have made it their life’s work.
MARIETTE SAMSON: ‘I LOST ALL MY BEANS’
“When our land floods, we lose all our crops. In January, I lost all my beans as well as maize, bananas, potatoes, yams, and pumpkin. This land feeds a family of ten (10), but we have no stocks of food. I have been working on a neighbours’s land so I can share some of that produce.”
Adding, “Today, it is only my three grandchildren who have eaten; I gave them coffee and bread and now I am preparing some beans for the whole family which will be our one meal of the day.
“I have planted for the next season and so we will have food again later in the year, but until then we will go hungry.”
“I also contributed my work to the community here in Dubuisson between July and September last year to build some structures which will make future flooding less severe, and that money has helped me a lot.”
MARC MAGLOIRE: “I EAT BEETROOT ON SUNDAYS”
“The land in Limonade is fertile and we receive lots of rain, but we have always found it difficult to consistently water our crops. We worked with WFP to dig irrigation channels across the land of our association of 200 farmers and we can now pump water to grow a wide range of new crops, including aubergine, cabbage, spinach, spring onion and beetroot. I can now eat beetroot salad again on Sundays, a local custom that I enjoy.”
“Before the irrigation, during a drought, we would eat only one meal a day, but now we can eat three times a day as well as sell food to pay for the needs of our families.”
“I am proud to be a farmer, this is my life; it is a good life. My children will carry on the farming tradition which is strong in this region.”
ELIE DEVIL: “I SAVED A MANGO TREE FROM BEING CUT DOWN”
“My neighbour wanted to cut down an ancient mango tree to make charcoal, but I prevented him from doing this as I know that deforestation leads to the erosion of the soil which harms all people and especially farmers in Pilette where I live.”
“I learnt about the importance of reforestation to protect the soil and prevent flooding as part of the WFP project and I am keen to see more mango, avocado, cacao and coffee trees planted. These will protect our environment and provide us with nutritious food. As a community, we worked together to build flood protection measures in the ravines which drain into the river.”
“These prevented sediment and soil from running off the hillsides, but we need to do a lot more as recent heavy rains still caused damage in the valley.”
Adding, “The weather is changing in this region; the rain is less and more unreliable, so many people like my neighbour want to cut trees to make charcoal so they can survive. In the past, the rain was more consistent and so there was more to eat, and we rarely lost our crops to flooding, so people didn’t need to make charcoal. My neighbour no longer talks to me, but I don’t care because I saved that mango tree.”
Ultimately, climate change is affecting the lives of many people all around the world, but some communities are more vulnerable than others.
Farmers in rural Haiti have been experiencing a lot of changes due to climate change and this has taken a toll on their livelihoods. However, these farmers are not just sitting back and accepting defeat, instead, they are digging deep for resilience.