African Swine Fever Eradication and Pig Repopulation in Haiti.

excerpts of a report prepared for PEOPLE TO PEOPLE by Phillip Gaertner

From STRETCH, Fall 1990

"I have myself a poetical enthusiasm for pigs, and the paradise of my fancy is one where pigs have wings. But it is only men, especially wise men, who discuss whether pigs can fly; we have no particular proof that pigs ever discuss it."
K. Chesterton

editor's note:

Phillip Gaertner went to Haiti on one of PEOPLE TO PEOPLE'S work/experience/ learning trips. He became especially interested in the pig eradication and repopulation program. He recently submitted a 40 + page report of his research. What appears here are only some edited highlights. (Please note that the brackets with three dots indicate that a section has been deleted, e.g.. [...]

While I applaud Phillip's research, his views should not be taken as PEOPLE TO PEOPLE'S position.


In 1978 the pigs of Haiti were diagnosed as having Asian Swine Flu (ASF), and all the pigs were subsequently killed. This was claimed to be necessary to protect the pork industry of both Haiti and the rest of the region, including the United States. Shortly after the eradication took place a repopulation program began.

Since the pig has traditionally constituted the peasant bank, the emergency source of 'Wealth" on which the peasant would draw for such emergencies as illness, births, weddings and the like, the eradication program caused enormous hardship on the peasants. The pigs had been introduced by the Spanish before 1500 and ever since have been central to the poor's economy.

As Phillip Gaertner details, this eradication and repopulation program has been the source of much discussion and criticism. Was the project necessary and was it worth the hardships it brought upon the Haitian peasant?

The eradication itself was criticized as unnecessary, and the repopulation program has had to endure much criticism from charges of dishonesty and ineptitude to various claims of plots to purposely harm the peasants in someone else's interests.

Gaertner, while a stern critic of aspects of the program, is in general a defender of the necessity of the eradication and a qualified supporter of the repopulation program.

Bob Corbett, editor


After it became obvious that the GOH (Government of Haiti) intended to perform as it always had, IICA (Inter-American Institute For Cooperation on Agriculture) and USAID/Haiti undertook a Swine Repopulation Project (SRP) that had as its goal the replacement of those pigs (380,000) that IICA had destroyed and paid compensation for during the eradication, not the 1.2 million hogs Haiti reportedly had prior to the outbreak of ASF. If the GOH never undertakes a repopulation or extension program in support of pork production, the pig's prolificacy alone will assure eventual return to former numbers.

The GOH, which had appeared to be so cautious and concerned for the welfare of its peasantry, and had always stressed that it was only taking action to meet its international responsibilities, probably would not have moved at all had the disease not attacked the commercial herds belonging to the elite. Over 95% of Haiti's swine owners were small peasant producers who, though they comprise 80% of the population, had always suffered severe neglect.

Per capita income in Haiti is estimated at $300 annually, but in the countryside it is closer to $50 per annum. Yet this group of people supplies the labor, food and export crops that provide sustenance for the elite and the 200 millionaires of Port-au-Prince. While 90% of the population speaks only Creole, until recently the official language had always been French. Resources have always been disproportionately allocated to serve the urban areas. Port-au-Prince alone receives 90% of the country's electrical power, 80% or more of the educational facilities, and 90% of modern health facilities, as well as being the primary arena of activity for the majority of NGOs. Rural conditions steadily deteriorate, and this is not just infrastructural, but ecological as well. Drought and erosion become more severe each year. The farms become less productive. More and more people abandon the land to suffer and die in the slums of Port-au-Prince. What was once lush tropical forest is now cactus and shrub. While only 30% of the land is considered arable, more than half is actually farmed. The remainder, due to drought or soil conditions, cannot be farmed. Increasingly, the hillsides are cultivated without benefit of fertilizer or fallow. The only crops that can be grown are those whose root structure allow them depth to access moisture and a grasp on the steep slopes. Considering the severe obstacles and lack of inputs with which Haitian farmers must work, there can be no doubt that they are among the most highly skilled in the world. [...]

The Interim Swine Repopulation Project was formulated in three phases. Phase I involved the importation and breeding of pigs for distribution to the SMCs (Secondary Multiplication Center). Phase II focused on the production of piglets at the SMCs for distribution to the peasants. Phase III was directed towards providing veterinary, pharmaceutical, feed and extension services to the peasants. Training courses were held, literature distributed, and radio extension services broadcast. [...]

The controversy surrounding the IICA project seems to be rooted in something that at times appears to be distant from the realities of increasing food production, and Haiti herself. The project became an ideological battle between two sides of a philosophical issue that exists in regard to development of resource-poor agriculture. Simply put: Whether the best approach is farmer-participatory, low-tech, and using mainly the farmer's indigenous knowledge with aid agencies playing a passive role, or whether the approach should be through teaching and extension, transferring what is considered "high" technology (including genetic material), and utilizing surplus-generating production methods. The critics have placed themselves on the "farmer-participatory" side of the conflict and erroneously placed the IICA project in opposition to them. They appear to be making the same errors which "development" has always made, that of excluding valuable knowledge because of its source, and dismissing it without fully examining it for its value. It usually doesn't take much time for Westerners engaged in agriculture development projects to be humbled by their lack of knowledge or the inappropriateness of their skills. The "experts" are always the people who were born there. (The fact that many of the IICA pigs appear to be doing better outside of the SMCs may be an example of the peasant's possession of more relevant knowledge.) [ ... ]


No program has been subjected to more criticism than the IICA disease eradication and pig repopulation project which took place in Haiti during the past decade. The critics, though incessant in their assault, have done a poor job of presenting their case, giving us emotion, romance, and mythology when hard data is what is needed. Some critics have been so seriously in error in their description of the disease that the suspicion that they intended to deliberately misinform becomes valid. Others have attempted to present folklore as fact, endowing the debate with an air of foolishness resembling that of Chesterton's wise men.

The purpose or utility of much of the controversy can be suspected to have nothing to do with pork production or peasant welfare. As Fern's father said in Charlotte's Web, "A pig doesn't grow fat on kisses and hugs". Neither does it grow fat on politics. [ ... ]


African Swine Fever (ASF) was first observed in European hogs in Africa early in this century. [ ... I The disease is found in nasal mucous, saliva, tissue, urine, and feces. The largest amount of virus is released into the environment when hemmorhagic blood is shed, either through urine or diarrhea, or at time of slaughter. The virus is highly resistant to environmental factors such as temperature and pH, and is transmitted by contaminated soil, vehicles, clothing and feed. International spread of the disease has been primarily through uncooked or inadequately cooked pork products in garbage fed to pigs. The virus has no direct effect on humans and infected pork products can safely be eaten. [ ... I

ASF is an economically devastating disease capable of doing severe damage to a nation's food security. The attempts of some critics to discount the seriousness of the disease is foolishness. The drastic measures necessary to control its spread are backed by a world consensus of scientific opinion, and from both ends of the political spectrum. Depopulation (killing the pigs) is the only control measure. Prompt diagnoses and speed of depopulation measures determine how high is the cost of an outbreak, and whether or not the disease becomes a permanent and negative factor in a region's agroecology. [...]

Once the ASF virus is established in the tick population of a given region, capital-intensive producers applying modern techniques and technology are the only survivors. Thus, the disease places the small peasant farmer at greatest risk. Not only does he lose perhaps his only source of capital, he has no means to shift resources or obtain credit to undertake production of other protein sources such as poultry. Contrary to what many critics of the Haitian program claim, the eradication in Haiti was not undertaken solely to protect the U.S. pork industry. In fact, the U.S. was probably least threatened by the disease, having mechanisms in place and the skilled personnel necessary to detect and contain the disease before severe losses could be incurred. The majority of U.S. pork producers are already raising pigs under confinement systems. It is the subsistence farmer of the southern hemisphere, lacking such skills, capital and mechanisms, and in whose countries morbidity due to protein deficiency diseases is too common, who had most to lose.


ASF is not AIDs-like. Both created problems for Haiti at the same time. There was an article published in The Lancet suggesting similarities, and even one researcher who traveled to Haiti searching for homosexual hogs. But it is now the consensus that the two diseases have little in common.


There are numerous stories of CIA involvement. The only remotely plausible story encountered is the one alleging CIA responsibility for the 1971 outbreak in Cuba, but this is not as believable as placing the blame on Cuban pig traffic with the Iberian Peninsula or on Cuba's military adventure in Angola. When viewed in light of the politically indiscriminate nature of the virus, the miniscule threat to U.S. pork producers, and the nearly $30 million the U.S. has spent in controlling the disease in Haiti alone, such allegations become absurd. [ ... ]


Haiti's Ministry of Agriculture and military destroyed all swine within 15 kilometers of both sides of their border. No compensation was paid to any Haitian farmer for his lost pigs [in this early phase]. The MOA claimed to have a list of farmers to be compensated, but no such list existed. The NGO's (non-governmental organizations) efforts to maintain records were only partially successful, either due to the peasant's quite natural aversion to being on any official list, or because they simply were unable to reach all the people. Over 20,000 pigs were killed during this effort to contain the disease, which was unsuccessful. Quarantine programs were established to control the spread of the disease, including foot baths at the international airport. But by December 1978, 30,000 swine had died in the initial outbreaks of the disease in Haiti. Reports were that the people were terrified. Pigs were found floating in rivers. The deaths were rapid, like nothing people had seen before. It is believed that the disease had been present in Haiti for some time prior to this, but in a low-virulent form.


Despite successes in the Dominican Republic, Cuba, and elsewhere, many people were skeptical about the outcome of an ASF eradication program in Haiti. The history of development programs in Haiti had always been one of corruption and failure, not success. How then could a massive emergency program be expected to succeed in any measure? This was the primary reason the GOH (Government of Haiti) had so much difficulty involving foreign agencies. This was a project that no one wanted to undertake. I ICA, with major assistance from USDA/APH IS, was the only international organization to respond.

The governments of Mexico, Canada, and U.S. all agreed to contribute funds and personnel, with IICA directing, but only after the USDA had committed itself. The government of Mexico was later unable to fulfill its entire commitment due to its battle with inflation. (They contributed what they had promised, but the peso had since been severely devalued.) The Canadians contributed a mere $700,000 due to a very reasonable failure of spirit, and the belief that eradication attempts would not be successful. (CIDA, the Canadian department of agriculture, had been severely "burned" in earlier projects in Haiti, and had received a lot of bad press at home because of it. They were the first to describe Haitian government as a "kleptocracy"). Before the eradication and repopulation program ended, the U.S., through different agencies, contributed $30 million.


Before IICA began its program, it insisted that the farmers who lost pigs during the government of Haiti's 1978 border eradication be compensated. The list that the GOH produced did not agree with the records that had been maintained by the NGOs operating in the area. Some farmers were compensated, but the majority who suffered losses never were. [...]

Much effort was taken to inform and educate the people before the first hog was even killed. IICA met with local officials, church groups and other NGOs, visited schools, and worked with the Haitian media to present the facts. This phase of the program, in light of the rumors and misinformation that persist even today, appears to have failed. Budgetary constraints were a part of the problem, but even had unlimited funds and time been available, efforts still would have been unsuccessful. Illiteracy is about 80% and radio extension services are only effective when people have radios and power. The people received at least part of the message; they brought their pigs to the compensation sites. But Haiti is a country used to propaganda, not information. The rumors never stopped.

The Haitian military had earlier announced that all pigs in the country were to be voluntarily slaughtered by owners, or slaughtered by the military, with no mention of compensation. Haitian "operators" went to work fleecing farmers by spreading rumors that IICA was only paying forty gourdes per animal instead of forty dollars, then buying the pigs and later selling them to the project at great profit to themselves. [... ]

editor's note:

The gourde is officially fixed at five gourdes to one American dollar. Thus the "operators" received a 500% profit on pigs purchased from peasant farmers.


Anyone with even a casual acquaintance with pigs would have to be scornful of the critics' concern that the pigs IICA placed in Haiti would not adapt. The Yorkshire, Hampshire, and Duroc pigs used to repopulate Haiti are found in tropical countries throughout the world. And they do very well. They are the most efficient producers of meat, having higher growth rates, greater weight at maturity, and higher feed conversion efficiency. Studies comparing tropical indigenous breeds to these so-called "Iowa" hogs have been conducted in the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand, Nigeria, Puerto Rico, Columbia, and other countries, and all concluded that native pigs were simply not worth the effort or cost of even low-management production systems. The study in Columbia even challenged the concept of no-input, no-cost, scavenging systems. After a value was placed on the time and few material inputs of so-called free-range management, it determined that native breeds were comparatively unproductive, and that such systems were not "no-input", but actually operating at a loss. The argument for "feed-conversion efficiency" is especially compelling in those countries where feed is scarce. When indigenous pigs and "Iowa" hogs are fed the same amount of feed, the "Iowa" hogs gain more weight, producing a maximum amount of meat from a minimum amount of feed. []

The improved breed's single most important virtue is it's efficiency in converting feed into meat, the result of a longer intestinal tract. Production with indigenous pigs can still be profitable, however. The main reason pork production is so low in developing nations is the lack of feed and management provided these animals by subsistence farmers. It takes two to three years for these animals to achieve market weight because they grow so slowly, and this is due in large part to the lack of feed or other management such as parasite and disease control. Small litters and high mortalities are the rule, not the exception, under extensive systems, no matter what the breed.

On the other hand, under traditional systems of management (or non-management), indigenous breeds may be better survivors, if not better producers. The Creole pig was a small animal. As such, it required less feed. Sixty to seventy per cent of a pig's body weight is water. Being smaller, the Creole pig required smaller amounts to survive. But what feed and water it did consume was nevertheless, less efficiently converted into food for humans. [ ... ] Prior to this program, there had been no serious attempt to improve Haitian pork production, no focus on the pig similar to what the eradication and absence of pigs brought about, and no extension services from the GOH. It is probable that the Creole pig, because of the high population it achieved during the past 500 years (which had exceeded all estimates, causing cost over-runs during the eradication and compensation phase of the program), was able to exist with similar or greater problems, unnoticed due to its numbers. Reports of studies of the Haitian Creole pig moreover, claim a litter size at weaning not exceeding four piglets, compared to the 8-9 per litter of the introduced breeds (even in Haiti the weaning rate is reported to be 8.2). Even if the introduced breeds are suffering an average litter mortality of 50%, productivity is still greater. The Creole pig was a result of centuries of inbreeding and possessed all the negative consequences of that breeding system, including low fertility, litter size, and growth rates, "Crossbreeding", practiced by 90% of U.S. commercial producers and producers around the world, enhances "vigor", creating offspring superior to their parents in traits such as growth rate, litter size, and decreased mortalities. Three breeds were placed in Haiti by IICA to allow this crossbred vigor to exist and avoid genetic homogeneity.

After the eradication, Haiti was in a position envied by pork producing countries everywhere. Not only was she free of ASF, but all major swine diseases as well. To preserve that status, the project sought SPF pigs or pigs free of disease. The U.S. and Canada were the closest two countries from which such truly healthy animals could be obtained. They then chose from available breeds those that possessed large litters, good mothering ability (able to produce a large quantity of milk), and efficient feed-conversion. These were Yorkshire, Durocs, Hamphsires, and some Landrace.

Nutrition is the single most important factor in a sow's reproductive efficiency, especially immediately before gestation and again prior to farrowing. Piglet survival also depends on the mother's nutritional supply during lactation. When sows are not provided with adequate water, lactation may not occur or be insufficient. The baby piglet's first twenty-four hours are especially critical as the piglet needs antibodies which are obtained from colostrum (first milk) of the sow. Nutrition of the sow is extremely important, as the piglet's growth is rapid at this time, and many environmental stresses are present, including disease, high daytime temperatures, and chilly nights. If pigs are not being adequately fed or managed, high mortalities and cannibalism are to be expected and will occur whether or not the pig is an indigenous pig, an improved breed, or a wild pig. [ ... ]

The indigenous swine's resistance to disease is largely mythological. The Creole pig died as readily from cholera and other diseases, including ASF, as the improved breeds. (The chronic or low-virulent form of the ASF virus in some pigs during the eradication no doubt misled many farmers into thinking their pigs had recovered.) Resistance and immunity to disease is not an inherited characteristic but is acquired either through exposure and survival, vaccination, or in the womb and through mother's milk. But none of the world's tropical indigenous swine have shown resistance to any of the significant viral or bacterial diseases, Mortality from birth to maturity due to disease in tropical pigs has been repgried to be as high as 50%. despite their acquired resistance to "local" diseases.

It often takes indigenous swine 2 1/2 years under extensive systems to achieve market weight of 200 lbs., but the Creole pig's weight rarely exceeded 150 lbs. With proper nutrition, the improved breeds achieve that weight (200 lbs.) in six months. (Beyond a certain age and weight, pigs become more lardy, and less feed-efficient, less profitable to raise.) Native swine, when housed and fed under the same conditions as the improved breeds reach their market weight at least three months sooner. These high-efficiency animals are faster growing and require feed to perform to their potential. Without sufficient feed, they, too, will degenerate to become a stunted, slow-growing, non-productive animal. In fact, exotic pigs under extensive or scavenging systems, and suffering from severe nutritional deficiencies, do bear a remarkable resemblance to the rustic pigs.

Resistance to parasites in native swine is also largely a myth. Parasites destroy any animal's productivity, including humans, generally weakening its condition and negatively affecting all aspects of production. Live weight losses can be enormous. [ ... ]

Color in pigs in the tropics can be significant. The pigs IICA placed in Haiti were three different colors: Red (Durocs), Black (Hampshires), and White (Yorkshires). The white pigs can burn in the sun, if they lack shade. However, the lighter color is less absorptive of heat and thus can substantially reduce heat stress. Among pig breeders in the Southern U.S., a prejudice against the white pigs persisted for many years. An old pig-farmer from Mississippi described to me her reaction the first time she saw a Yorkshire: "I was terrified. I had never seen anything like it. So pink you could see through it. It seemed unnatural." After a few pigs were bred and taken to market, however, most breeders changed their minds. Kipling, writing about one of the earliest failures in aid projects, spoke of famine victims in India dying "within arm's reach of plenty" because they would not eat a grain that was foreign to them. But Haitians have more than a distrust of things new in their dislike of the light colored pigs: The gods demand a black pig as sacrifice. This is a non-rational reason; not an irrational one. Color is significant in all religions where ritual plays a role, including Catholicism.

Even the director of the project has expressed regret over the fact that they did not place more black pigs. But Haiti does have her black Hampshires, and when crossed with Durocs, the offspring is usually black. (Heifer Project International, a non-profit organization in existence since 1944 with experience in more than 100 countries, later provided sixty colored boars at the project's request, to further satisfy those who preferred colored pigs.) [ ... ]

Within a year after the last native swine died on La Tortue, the French announced a repopulation program introducing a Chinese breed to Haiti. This program is very well accepted in Haiti, the Chinese breed being black and a rustic pig similar to their Creole pig. This program is expected to introduce 40,000 pigs by its scheduled end in 1991. (The IICA/USAID program placed five hundred thousand.) USAID is providing assistance in their distribution. The Chinese breeds have a low growth rate, poor carcass conformation, and fattiness similar to all rustic breeds. But it is valued in breeding programs worldwide because of its high litter size, averaging 13 live pigs per litter (when fed and managed), compared to the U.S. average of 10, with a record litter size of 40. While the Europeans have been experimenting with Chinese breeds for some time, the U.S. delayed importation until recently, out of fear of disease problems. The U.S. and Canada struggled for many years to achieve pig populations that are free of many of the diseases plaguing other countries, and now possess the best disease-free herds in the world. The IICA program was even hesitant about allowing the Chinese breeds into Haiti for the same reasons. []


The IICA program designers insisted on the construction of proper housing before distributing pigs to the Secondary Multiplication Centers. This requirement was made in order to decrease initial mortalities (the main objective of the Interim Swine Project was to introduce as many pigs as possible in the shortest possible time), and to give the multiplication herds time to be introduced to the environment. This method of introduction has worked so well that even many of the critics have stopped squealing about "adaptation", and are admitting to the presence of more and more pigs in the countryside.

There has been much resentment regarding I ICA's strict requirements of NGOs who wished to qualify as Secondary Multiplication Centers (SMCs). Many simply could not fulfill their demands. The project had to guarantee the survival of their pigs, and that no individual or group would unfairly profit. SMCs that did not provide proper care were terminated from the project. Some of the NGOs have complained that they were never contacted to provide input, despite efforts of the project to do so. This is no doubt true, as many of the NGOs operating in Haiti are unaware or only vaguely aware of each other's existence themselves. The project required SIVICs to use their nutrient-balanced feed to insure the health and survival of their pigs during the breeding and distribution of their animals. This requirement became misunderstood as being essential to the pig's survival outside the SMCs. Critics have also claimed that the project demanded too much of the peasant in terms of management. Management was not foreign to the peasants even prior to the eradication. Pigs were often tethered or yoked, as well as penned, at least during farrowing and while fattening for market. Various feeds were provided these animals by peasants at these times, including rice bran, maize, sweet potato vines, avocados, mangos, bananas and kitchen scraps. These components did not provide a nutrient complete feed for the rustic pig, and is one of the reasons the rustic pig was such a poor producer.

The project would not have succeeded at all were it not for the cooperation of the 130 NGOs who participated. The NGOs, through the 440 SMCs, distributed pigs to Haitian farmers, along with training and extension services that had not existed prior to this project. Many of the NGOs have suffered financial difficulties, due in large part to the feed situation and marketing difficulties which will be discussed later. Previously, pork production had been largely accidental, and pigs and piglets were simply taken for granted, due to the then existing luxury of numbers the increased consciousness

and demand created by the eradication and subsequent absence of pigs is responsible for much of the hysteria and criticism of the project. The hardship the disease imposed on the already suffering peasantry of Haiti had a tremendously negative impact on their lives, which cannot be discounted. The adaptation has been slow and will be few more years (56) before completed. [ ... I

Concrete floors contribute greatly to conductive heat loss, especially if it is wetted by the pig. Shade against solar radiation and ventilation also greatly alleviate heat-induced stress. Haiti is fortunate to have concrete as a locally available resource. The blocks used in the construction of the pens by the SMCs are locally produced, and do not contribute towards deforestation. The pens I saw in Haiti were high, solid walls that did not allow for much ventilation. A lattice-type construction would have provided for much more movement of air, but would also have been weaker. The pens at some of the SMCs are reported to be in bad shape, with some walls having been knocked down by the larger animals. Either type of construction would require some reinforcement. Steel would be best, but imported. Bamboo has been used effectively to replace steel reinforcement in concrete and, I believe, could perhaps have been used to design a better, cooler pen for the pigs. While the critics have complained of the condition of the pens, none have bothered to design or build a better one (though some of the peasants have). [ ... I


The first pigs to arrive in Haiti were Specific Pathogen Free hogs. SPF hogs are removed from the dam by C-section and reared aseptically in strict isolation. This is the only way to control or eradicate certain diseases. SPF repopulation efforts have taken place in Switzerland, Denmark, Germany, France, The Netherlands, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Australia, Japan and Taiwan. SPF herds can remain free of many diseases that plague pork producers, unless they come into contact with disease-bearing pigs or a contaminated environment, at which time they will succumb more rapidly because they have little or no resistance to major diseases. Two thousand were used as "sentinel" pigs to determine if the ASF virus remained in Haiti. The first two shipments arrived from the Canadian lowest bidder in very poor condition, possessing disease and deformities. After that, and since U.S. money was being spent, only U.S. hogs were purchased. The sentinel pigs were then used as part of the repopulation effort. It is possible that some of the SPF pigs and their offspring suffered somewhat higher mortalities initially due to their lower resistance. Later pigs shipped to Haiti by other groups were not SPF, but were strictly screened for major diseases. Not only is the U.S. one of the few places in the world where SPF hogs can be purchased, the U.S. and Canada are the only countries in this hemisphere that have succeeded in creating a pig population free of other diseases, in particular: hog cholera.

IICA/USAID/GOH at one time issued an importation permit to CARITAS, a Catholic relief organization that has had enormous success in development projects around the world, for the importation of rustic pigs into Haiti. As is customary, the pigs were held in quarantine for observation and testing for contracted pseudo-rabies, and many of the animals died. The herd was not allowed into Haiti. Pseudorabies causes abortion, stillbirths, and nearly 100% mortality in piglets, and diarrhea, convulsions, and death in older hogs, and these are the same symptoms critics of the program are reporting in the IICA pigs to support their contention that the animals are not adapting. Despite the lesson that should have been learned by NGOs by the loss of these pigs, some were condoning the smuggling of these animals, in spite of the health threat they pose. One eyewitness account has it that pigs are being sold directly off boats traveling along the coastline. NGOs in Haiti do have an informal black-market network and are assisting each other in acquiring these pigs. If these pigs are free-ranging or scavenging, they will quickly spread disease throughout the countryside.


Despite numerous difficulties, this project nevertheless succeeded in achieving most of its major goals. The eradication/repopulation project was attacked and criticized from the start, and never received the support it should have from the people, the NGOs and other agencies, or the GOH. For the most part this was due to a pessimism and lack of confidence originating out of the history of failures that aid projects, whether governmental or non-governmental, have experienced in Haiti. Even to this day, few of the critics read or spoken to seem to have bothered acquiring accurate or realistic knowledge of the virus, its history, or epidemiology. In fact, few seen to have heard of IICA, most of the attacks being aimed at USAID, an organization that sought to minimize its role, and for the same reasons that many of the NGOs refused to do anything toward repopulation, did USAID assume the duty that was the responsibility of the GOH. All the critics missed an emergency action that had to undertaken. But they severely crippled the program especially if the program personnel had anything but the highest confidence in the importance and necessity of their task. [...]

Did the project extend the unavoidable hardship imposed on Haiti by the spread of ASF? In a short-term sense, the answer is "YES". But in the long-term, the peasant could have experienced massive benefits, and Haiti's food security would have been significantly enhanced, Fortunately, it is still highly probable that this will occur or has occurred, due to the introduced breed's genetic endowment, and the extension and development that has occurred in support of this project. But thanks to NGOs who participated in or supported smuggling of pigs, bypassing health inspections, and the GOH's "careless" enforcement of health and import regulations, they can now expect high mortalities in all the pigs due the diseases which Haiti and the Dominican Republic were, for a while at least, free of. Improved production will now only occur with increased use of expensive drugs and vaccines that are far out-of-reach of the peasantry, who cannot even afford such necessities for themselves. [ ... ]

It must be noted that many of the NGOs operating in Haiti are not involved in agriculture development projects, but are focused on health, education, religious, political or other work. Although more than 80% of the population is employed in agriculture, many of the personnel of these NGOs know nothing of farming, don't know the difference between corn and sorghum, and yet feel themselves qualified to provide negative criticism regarding the project. These people are the source of much of the romantic "hogwash" regarding the Creole pig, including talk of using the old rustic pig as a kind of national symbol (no doubt a future source of embarrassment for the country), and their "noble savage" ideas about swine production have destroyed for much of the Haitian peasantry a key element of successful animal husbandry: enthusiasm for the breed.

One partly valid criticism that could have been made is that it was extremely naive of the project designers to anticipate total success so long as many of the resources key to that success were in the control of the GOH. But a program of this scale had no choice but to include Haiti's government. And no one, not the critics, the NGOs, the peasants, nor the GOH, would have allowed the project to postpone repopulation. It was doomed to experience a degree of failure, but its inclusion of many of the NGOs was intended to lessen the negative impact of the GOH's traditional irresponsibility. But many groups refused participation, and instead invested valuable energy and resources towards attacking the project, and for reasons not thoroughly understood. Many NGOs contributed greatly to the disinformation that threatened this project from the start. They were highly pessimistic regarding the outcome of such a project in Haiti, and many feared that their association with the project would have negative effects on their own work if the project failed. Fear that a project will fail does not justify what amounts to attempted sabotage. Rather than being impressed with their concern for peasant welfare, one is taken aback by their carelessness and shortsightedness, and the lack of sophistication in their agroecological and socioeconomic analysis. The critics attacked the pig, the technology, and those applying it; not the project's reliance on the GOH, nor did they contribute towards overcoming that vulnerability. The lack of cooperation by some groups only served to increase the role played by the GOH, and made the project more susceptible to the manipulations of the elite. The warnings of some of the critics have become, with their help, a reality. The IICA pigs may become "elitist" animals, and this project, like so many others, may end up having benefited only the elite. [ ... ]

No one can challenge the claim that USAID is primarily a political tool designed to assist U.S. foreign policy. That does not mean, however, that every USAID program is designed to serve only U.S. interests. USAID has assisted many NGOs in achieving success in their own projects, some of which took twenty years to succeed. [ ... ]

Attacks against U.S. and USAID, while often valid, in many cases only serve the interests of the Haitian elite, or perhaps others who, in all likelihood, have no true interest in either pigs or peasants. Whenever a member of Haiti's elite manages to import grain, processed grain products, cooking oils, or pork parts into the country without paying the tariff's that are supposed to protect her pork and grain producers, Haiti suffers. But the blame is put on the U.S., not on the corrupt and irresponsible government of Haiti. The Duvalierists continue their bleeding while the peasantry merely bleeds: confused, defeated, ruined.

Pigs don't have wings, but people often do -- usually left or right. While rural development projects are apolitical in nature, they are most often attacked or supported for political reasons. This is true of many projects in Haiti, whether NGO or foreign governmental agency, and whether the attack is in the form of lack of participation or cooperation from NGOs, or lack of support from an irresponsible government. And while the development workers can return to their comfortable middle-class lifestyles in the developed world, the peasant bears the burden of their failures. He is increasingly isolated, has his hopes destroyed, and sees his investment, whether emotional or material, come to naught. And even those NGOs whose primary purpose for existing appears to be political should realize something that the Duvalierists have long known: All armies, including revolutionary armies, travel on their stomaches.

Phillip Gaertner


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