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#399: If not kudzu, what will it be? Antoine responds

From: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>

I am like you suspicious of introducing foreign elements into a
native ecosystem.  The mongoose were introduced in the
north of Haiti to control the local snake population, and quickly
multiplied and made a pest of themselves.

But as the French say "Aux grand maux, les grands remèdes".
This is the point made by my correspondent in the following
response to the concerns evoked in Corbettland:

(In communicating these notes, I am not in the least championing
kudzu.  I had never heard of it until two days ago.  But I share the
conviction that something absolutely drastic has to happen to
stop major parts of Haiti from becoming irreversibly desert-like.
What will it be? -- Guy)

From: Steve
To: Guy Antoine <GuyAntoine@windowsonhaiti.com>
Sent: Thursday, September 02, 1999 6:00 PM

I know all about the South's experience with Kudzu. I don't think
your friend realizes what NW Haiti is like.  There are no buildings.
There are no trees or crops.  There is no soil.  Life is desperate.
In fact, it is so difficult on those mountains and in the fields, I
actually wonder if Kudzu will grow there.  There are no other
options.  There is no water to cultivate anything else.  Kudzu will
raise the moisture level of the surface and actually enrich the

Except for a couple of small areas in Bombardopolis, and a
strip along the NW coast, there is no green visible from space.
The once rich layer of volcanic soil has since washed almost
entirely out to sea.  There, the clouds of sediment have driven
the fish miles away.  In the past two years alone, fishermen
report their hauls falling to almost nothing because of this.
It is a desperate situation that Kudzu might be able to help.
If my house were burning down, I wouldn't care if someone
threw dirty water on the fire.

Besides, I have found the Haitian people there to be clever
and hard working, although they are weak and tired from the
desperate life.  They may well be able to manage an
overgrowth of Kudzu in a certain area in ways that we would
never think of - making the best of it.

Thank you.  Steve