Haitian farmers need support now or face food crisis in 2013

Nessilo Dorestant is 49 years old and is from La Source, Roseux. Like many Haitian farmers, his crops were mostly destroyed by Hurricane Sandy in October 2012. He explains the need to shore up Haiti's agriculture now or face a food crisis next year.

“It’s been more then 20 years since I have been cultivating my land in this area. I usually plant cassava, beans and corn but I mostly plant plantains. The harvest from my land has always fed my family and what is left my wife, Litane, sells it at the local market. The money from our sales is used to pay school fees for our 5 children.

Our next harvest would have started in April, but we’ve lost practicaly everything.

File 13770Nessilo show the damage caused by the superstorm to his crops
"I would start planting again in January if I hadn’t lost my crops. I would need plantain seedlings and peas and corn seeds with some tools like hoes, machetes and pickaxes. Also it is very important for me tohave a small amount of cash to feed neigbors that are coming to help me on the land. And all this I need now.

"If I do not find seeds and seedlings now, I will have to prepare them myself from remaining devasted crops. But this will take me a year for them to be ready and more than 6 months after that to harvest.

There is no possible way for my family to survive this long without food.

"It would have been possible to ask support from other farmers, but we are all in the same situation.”

 

Silianne Médé is 60 and from Vallue, Petit-Goave. She tells a similar story - that the situation for Haitians could grow worse if next year's harvest is missed:

"I have been farming here since I was a young lady and I plant peas, corn, millet, sweet potatoes, cassava, Haitian grapefruit and plantains. Like all farmers in the area, I was supposed to harvest during November, especially the grapefruit.

File 13772Silianne sits with what is left of her crop

Everything is gone. There is nothing left to harvest, and this is our only livelihood – this is how we pay the school of our children and buy anything else that we need.

"At this stage I cannot measure in dollars how much I have lost, but there is no life anymore. In addition to not being able to send my children to school now, I do not have any harvest to feed them, no money to buy food and my house was destroyed during the bad weather and I cannot rebuild it.

"In normal times, I would prepare my land in January to plant in February. I need peas and corn seeds and cassava and plantain seedlings before January to allow me to not miss the next harvest.

If I do not find seeds and seedlings, only God knows what will happen to my family and I.

 

In addition to emergency relief and cholera prevention in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, ActionAid is working to secure funds for a 3-phase recovery effort addressing rights to housing, food security, education and livelihoods.