The Haitian Farmers’ Failure

Haiti Fast Facts

Haiti is a landlocked country in West Africa, bordered by the Dominican Republic to the east, Mexico to the south, Colombia to the west, and the Atlantic Ocean to the north. Haiti’s territory is about 462,000 square miles (1.07 million square kilometers); about one-third of this area is land, and the rest water. Because of its position off the Atlantic coast and its relatively dry climate, Haiti has a subtropical dry-season climate. The population of 2.7 million is mostly subsistence farmers of maize, beans, and plantains. In addition, more than 400,000 of Haiti’s population is made up of descendants of slaves.

For many years following the 1804 earthquake, Haiti’s agricultural production had been devastated. In an effort to halt the devastation, the Haitian government established a rice-growing program. Unfortunately, this program, which was intended to provide food for the impoverished, did not last. At its peak, Haiti’s rice production was well below 50 percent of what it had been before the earthquake. For many years after the earthquake, the Haitian government attempted to raise rice by subsidizing the peasants to grow the crop. This effort did not work, either. The farmers of Haiti, like many rural African peasants, did not understand the science behind crop production and were unable to adopt the techniques that were successful in Europe. Many of the peasants were illiterate, and therefore, their attempts to farm were unsuccessful. Furthermore, they had no access to modern seeds and other seeds, such as those that were used in Europe, did not grow as well in Haiti. In addition, they did not have access to the technology that these modern seeds and tools provided.

A combination of factors was responsible for the farmers’ failure: the tropical nature of the country, which provided the most suitable environment for agriculture, the lack of access to modern scientific advice, and a lack of knowledge of the science behind crop development. The lack of access to modern science and the lack of knowledge led to the loss of a major source of income in the country. The result was the fall of many, many farmers. There is now a significant population of

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