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Smallholder Farmers Alliance Blog

Saturday
Nov022019

Food As Both Cause and Response to Haiti's Crisis

US Rice Exports in 2017. Source: Statista 2019, from US Department of Agriculture.

There was welcome news yesterday that the US Agency for International Development will distribute 2,000 metric tons of emergency food in Haiti in the form of rice, green peas and cooking oil. This is in response to a food crisis that, along with fuel shortages, rampant inflation and public outrage at corruption, has galvanized two months of anti-government protests. The irony is that this emergency food is needed, at least in part, because of US food being sold to Haiti. I know that does not make sense at first reading, but it has to do with trade imbalance.

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Sunday
Oct272019

Haitian Farmers Speak Out

With coverage of the current national lockdown in Haiti focused mainly on cities, I wanted to share the viewpoint of three farmers and two agronomy students regarding the current crisis and what they think about the future. Four of the five were interviewed within the last few days by agronomists from the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA), while the fifth draws on a previous interview because her cellphone has not been answering (and may well not be charged because of the lack of regular power throughout the country). All five of those interviewed are affiliated with the SFA and our partners.

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Friday
Oct112019

NGOs Partnering and Preparing for a Haiti Reboot

There is a tidal wave of righteous anger pulsing through the social fabric of Haiti. For months the population has borne the increasing burden of corruption, rising inflation, shortages of fuel and a scarcity of food. Now citizens from all persuasions and walks of life, in major cities throughout the land, have responded by bringing the entire country to a standstill. Removal of President Jovenel Moïse by any means is their rallying call, and a fundamental change in the governance of the country is their goal.

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Tuesday
Oct012019

Turmoil in Haiti: A Tale of Corruption and Hope

The citizens of Haiti have taken to the streets en masse to demand the resignation of President Jovenel Moïse, and the regular functioning of life throughout the country has come to a near standstill. There are literally hundreds of roadblocks on most days in and around cities and towns, all mounted in an effort to put pressure on the president to resign. 

Huge protests have become the norm, with radical elements using these otherwise boisterous but peaceful gatherings as cover to destroy property. Businesses and schools are closed. Government offices are not able to function. And there is a tension so thick and pervasive it seems like a dark otherworldly shadow at the periphery of your vision. Ever present and almost visible, but never quite in focus.

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Thursday
Sep052019

Timberland Commits to Plant Millions of Trees in Haiti

Today global outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland announced a new commitment to plant 50 million trees around the world by 2025 as part of its pursuit of a greener future. Haiti is one of six initial target countries, and tree planting efforts there will be led by Timberland's longtime partner, the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA). Additional partners helping with the international 50 million tree goal include GreenNetwork, TREE AIDthe UN Convention to Combat DesertificationConnect4Climate - World Bank GroupJustdiggit, Las Lagunas Ecological Park, Trees for the FutureAmerican Forests and Treedom.

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Thursday
Aug222019

Trees Bring Cotton Back to Haiti

Although it all started with trees, the story jumps forward to rumors which began circulating on July 18th that something important was happening behind an iron gate in the Haitian city of Gonaives. Neighbors spoke of large bags, said to be filled with cotton, being unloaded next to a machine that several other people had seen delivered the day before. A few days later word went out that the machine behind the gate was ginning cotton. Not willing to rely on rumors, people began to peek through the gate and indeed, there it was. For the first time in over 30 years, Haitian-grown cotton was being ginned.

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Tuesday
Jul022019

Women Farmers Transforming Global Agriculture

Close to half of all farmers throughout the developing world are women, but gender alone denies them equal access to resources. Given the right support, smallholder women farmers will take a leading role in transforming global agriculture and achieving food security. I explore this premise in “Half the Sky, Half the Land,” an illustrated version of the talk I gave at the Parliament of the World’s Religions in Toronto last November. Please check it out by clicking on the image above.

Monday
May202019

Digital Champions for Haiti

Columbia students from top clockwise: Hyo Jin Kim, Jimmy Lee, Numwa Srimontha, Nitin Magina
and Ran Ma next to SFA agronomist Joseph Piterson (right) gathering data from a Haitian farmer
using the new app on a tablet.

by Hugh Locke and Atlanta McIlwraith

Five Columbia University students who hail from China, India, South Korea and Thailand deserve the designation ‘digital champions’ for designing a revolutionary new app to help smallholder farmers in Haiti, and eventually other parts of the world. What makes this app so unique is that it is designed to help small-scale family farmers become more productive at the same time as measuring the precise impact of each farmers’ crops on increasing food security, improving the status of women, and combatting climate change.

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