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#3085: Produce our own food. (fwd)

From: gilles hudicourt <hudic@videotron.ca>

A lot has been said and written about what can be done to help Haiti, and
many people I am sure give this issue plenty of thought.  I am sharing here
my humble thoughts and would appreciate comments, positive and negative.

Haiti is and always has been a country where most of the population has
lived off the land.  In the 18th century, money was invested in agriculture
by the French colonist which made Haiti France's richest colony. After 1804
, agriculture steadily declined as far as exports were concerned but still
continues to this day to support the majority of the population (in a
miserable way).  Investments in agriculture also declined to near zero to
the point where today there is almost no major investments in the land.
We have seven million people to feed out of which a good 5 to 6 million are
miserably self-employed in agriculture.  Why not give these people a chance
at making a better living by giving them a good market for whatever they can
produce : a market of 7 million Haitians.  Forget exports, we cannot compete
with other countries (coffe, sugar, fruits)
The way to promote agriculture is to generate a demand for the local goods
and sometimes by increasing the price of the goods to motivate production
and the way to achieve this is simple :  BAN FOOD IMPORTS ALTOGETHER.  Of
course this cannot be done overnight and in an anarchic way but in a planned
and gradual way.  Laws could be passed that as of a certain date the imports
of certain food goods are banned.  That would give the peasants, investors
and businessmen time to turn around and prepare to fill in the vacuum left
by the banned imports by preparing the land planting and growing the
required goods and taking it to market in time to fill the void.  This would
apply to rice, meats, poultry, fruits, cooking oil, sugar, salt and even
maybe flour if a local alternative exists.

Of course such a measure would raise the price of food and the poor in
Port-au-Prince would scream bloody murder, but how many jobs would be
created in the provinces, how many of them who left their family plots would
suddenly realize that they could make a living off of these plots, by either
producing goods, raising cattle or by leasing their presently worthless land
out to others to do the same ?  Small industry woudl also be created by
producing goods that can no longer be imported such as cereal, baby foods,
ketchup, mustard, mayo etc. How many would find employment in the secondary
jobs created by such a measure ?  I have no idea.  Who does ?

No measure taken by leaders in any country of the world pleases everyone.  A
minority must always suffer for the good of the majority, and there is
always a very vocal minority that covers the silent majority (in our case
the city slumdwellers).  Haiti is an agricultural country whose provinces
are all but dead.  Lets for once sacrifice the Port-au-Prince minority and
save the provinces.  If the provinces recover, it will relieve
Port-au-Prince who will recover also.

Those that have arguments for and against this idea, please explain your
arguments if you decide to reply.  This should be interesting.


Gilles Hudicourt