Sign the petition and then share it. We need to get as many signatures as we can by May 1st.
Malnutrition is a significant problem in Haiti. Ironically, malnutrition often strikes farmers. The people who grow food cannot afford to buy it. They cannot make enough from their efforts. They’re left with horrible choices. They pull their kids out of school. They buy less food, which means someone doesn’t get enough to eat. They leave their land, their family, and their community looking for work in the city. They do all of these things and it’s still not enough. Malnutrition forces people to prioritize “now” over preparing for their futures and leaves communities damaged and vulnerable in the long term. Malnutrition isn’t a short term problem solved with a meal.
This wasn’t always the case. Prior to the 1980’s, Haiti produced enough rice to feed it’s population. They needed to protect their markets from subsidized foreign rice, but farmers could feed themselves. As Timothy Schwartz documents so brilliantly in Travesty in Haiti, “The American Plan” made poverty worse in the name of economic development. Subsidized US rice was dumped on the Haitian market. This fed Haitians in the short term but made it impossible for rice farmers to make a profit long term. Haitian rice production collapsed. American corporations benefitted because they could now sell their rice in Haiti or to NGOs who would give it away. Over the years, the American Plan has become a textbook example of how not to provide aid. This kind of helping hurts.
The USDA plans to repeat the same mistake. This time with peanuts. Haitians farm peanuts. Farmers have been taught the best practices to improve their yields, treat their crops, and bring their food to markets. They have invested their time, effort, and money, and they’ve managed to feed their families. But if this plan goes through, they will be out of business.
If we want to fight malnutrition in Haiti, we should invest in Haitian peanuts. Buy them locally and give them to those who cannot afford them. The USDA’s plan won’t help. Haitians are unable to stop this plan. We need U.S. citizens to sign the petition to stop the new American Plan.