News / Americas

Help Falls Short for Haiti's Farmers

Many who lost tools, seeds wait for help

Farmers near Petit-Goâve, Haiti, prepare the soil for planting.
Farmers near Petit-Goâve, Haiti, prepare the soil for planting.

Multimedia

Audio

High up a mountain near the town of Petit-Goâve, farmers are preparing the rocky soil to plant corn, beans, potatoes and other crops before the rains begin.

Sixty percent of the food produced in Haiti is planted at this time of year. It's hard work done with basic tools.

But many farmers lost the tools they need in January's earthquake.

Alix Placid and his neighbors were working near the mountaintop when the quake hit.

"While we were working, we realized the ground was shaking," he says. "We didn't know what was happening. The rocks were tumbling down around us. We dropped our tools and ran."

Many farmers in Haiti use rudimentary tools.
Many farmers in Haiti use rudimentary tools.

A landslide buried his tools beneath a field of rubble. Above it looms a fresh white scar of newly exposed rock where the mountainside used to be.

Tools of survival

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization is working to distribute new tools to as many farmers in the affected area as possible.

"To plant crops, we need a pick axe, machete and other tools," says farmer Jean-Nicole Gressy. "Otherwise, we can't do our work. You can't do it with a wooden stick. You need metal."

FAO says it has delivered tools and seeds to 68,000 families in the earthquake zone so far. Emergency coordinator Javier Escobedo says the organization plans to distribute 500 metric tons of bean seeds to farmers in the area.

"Everybody will receive that. It is what we [call] a blanket distribution. We have enough seeds for that."

Free tool distribution near Petit-Goâve, Haiti.
Free tool distribution near Petit-Goâve, Haiti.

Help is slow to arrive

But so far, supplies are coming through slower than officials had hoped. Fritz had 245 complete sets of tools to give out. But far more people came than that. So he had to resort to giving one farmer a hoe, one a machete, and so on. Many received nothing.

And of the 500 metric tons of bean seed expected, only 27 tons had been delivered so far, according to FAO agronomist Arne Fritz, who is in charge of the emergency response in the Petit-Goâve area. "We don't have enough seeds to distribute to everyone. If we don't receive anything this week, well..."

Help may still be on the way. FAO hopes to continue distributing seeds through April. And donors pledged $5.3 billion for earthquake recovery at a UN conference in New York Wednesday. But whether that funding comes through and reaches those who need remains to be seen.

"Waiting for God's help"

On the mountaintop outside Petit-Goâve, farmers like Alix Placid can do little but wait.

"I'm waiting for God's help," he says. "We will find other ways to fend for ourselves. We lost our livestock and everything. We don't have anything to sell. We don't have anyone to help us."

But his friends are struggling, too, and for now they say they are not sure how much help they can offer.

You May Like

Video One Year After Thai Coup, No End in Sight for Military Rule

Since carrying out the May 22, 2014 coup, the general has retired from the military but is still firmly in charge More

Goodbye, New York

This is what the fastest-growing big cities in America have in common More

Job-Seeking Bangladeshis Risk Lives to Find Work

The number of Bangladeshi migrants on smugglers’ boats bound for Southeast Asian countries has soared in the past two years More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthroughi
X
May 22, 2015 10:23 AM
Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Turkey's Main Opposition Party Hopes for Election Breakthrough

Turkey’s main opposition Republican People’s Party has sought an image change ahead of the June 7 general election. The move comes after suffering successive defeats at the hands of the Islamist-rooted AK Party, which has portrayed it as hostile to religion. Dorian Jones reports from the western city of Izmir.
Video

Video Europe Follows US Lead in Tackling ‘Conflict Minerals’

Metals mined from conflict zones in places like the Democratic Republic of Congo are often sold by warlords to buy weapons. This week European lawmakers voted to force manufacturers to prove that their supply chains are not inadvertently fueling conflicts and human rights abuses. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Class Tackles Questions of Race, Discrimination

Unrest in some U.S. cities is more than just a trending news item at Ladue Middle School in St. Louis, Missouri. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, it’s a focus of a multicultural studies class engaging students in wide-ranging discussions about racial tensions and police aggression.
Video

Video Mind-Controlled Prosthetics Are Getting Closer

Scientists and engineers are making substantial advances towards the ultimate goal in prosthetics – creation of limbs that can be controlled by the wearer’s mind. Thanks to sophisticated sensors capable of picking up the brain’s signals, an amputee in Iceland is literally bringing us one step closer to that goal. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Afghan Economy Sinks As Foreign Troops Depart

As international troops prepare to leave Afghanistan, and many foreign aid groups follow, Afghans are grappling with how the exodus will affect the country's fragile economy. Ayesha Tanzeem reports from the Afghan capital, Kabul.
Video

Video Poverty, Ignorance Force Underage Girls Into Marriage

The recent marriage of a 17-year old Chechen girl to a local police chief who was 30 years older and already had a wife caused an outcry in Russia and beyond. The bride was reportedly forced to marry and her parents were intimidated into giving their consent. The union spotlighted yet again the plight of many underage girls in developing countries. Zlatica Hoke reports poverty, ignorance and fear are behind the practice, especially in Asia and Africa.
Video

Video South Korea Marks Gwangju Uprising Anniversary

South Korea this week marked the 35th anniversary of a protest that turned deadly. The Gwangju Uprising is credited with starting the country’s democratic revolution after it was violently quelled by South Korea’s former military rulers. But as Jason Strother reports, some observers worry that democracy has recently been eroded.
Video

Video California’s Water System Not Created To Handle Current Drought

The drought in California is moving into its fourth year. While the state's governor is mandating a reduction in urban water use, most of the water used in California is for agriculture. But both city dwellers and farmers are feeling the impact of the drought. Some experts say the state’s water system was not created to handle long periods of drought. Elizabeth Lee reports from Ventura County, an agricultural region just northwest of Los Angeles.
Video

Video How to Clone a Mammoth: The Science of De-Extinction

An international team of scientists has sequenced the complete genome of the woolly mammoth. Led by the Swedish Museum of Natural History in Stockholm, the work opens the door to recreate the huge herbivore, which last roamed the Earth 4,000 years ago. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble considers the science of de-extinction and its place on the planet
Video

Video Blind Boy Defines His Life with Music

Cole Moran was born blind. He also has cognitive delays and other birth defects. He has to learn everything by ear. Nevertheless, the 12-year-old has had an insatiable love for music since he was born. VOA’s June Soh introduces us to the young phenomenal harmonica player.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

US, Cuba Fail to Reach Agreement to Reopen Embassies

State Department officials say they're optimistic that negotiations will conclude despite sticking points
More

Tutu Lends Support to Age Campaign

Help Age International has launched Action 2015 campaign
More

Colombia Kills 18 FARC Rebels

The bombing raid took place in the Cauca region of western Colombia
More

US, Cuba Talks Resume With Focus on Embassies

Fourth round of talks aimed at overcoming obstacles to opening embassies in each other's capitals and re-establishing diplomatic ties
More

Lawmakers Question Normalization Effort With Cuba

On eve of next round of US-Cuba talks, Senator Bob Menendez calls engagement 'one-sided'
More

Chinese Premier Visits South America

Brazil is the first stop on Chinese premier Li’s tour of Latin America
More