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

Disappointing Report on China's Economy Shakes Markets

In London and New York shares lost 3 percent, while Paris and Germany dropped around 2.4 percent More

DRC Tries Mega-Farms to Feed Population

Park at Boukanga Lonzo currently has 5,000 hectares under cultivation, crops stretching as far as eye can see, and is start of ambitious large-scale agriculture plan More

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Areas are spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, source of livelihood for fishermen and herders who have called the marshes home for generations 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.
Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOAi
X
August 31, 2015 2:17 AM
Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video Nobel Prize Winner Malala Talks to VOA

Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai met with VOA's Deewa service in Washington Sunday to talk about women’s rights and unveil a trailer for her new documentary. VOA's Katherine Gypson has more.
Video

Video War, Drought Threaten Iraq's Marshlands

Iraq's southern wetlands are in crisis. These areas are the spawning ground for Gulf fisheries, a resting place for migrating wildfowl, and source of livelihood for fishermen and herders. Faith Lapidus has more.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Rebuilding New Orleans' Music Scene

Ten years after Hurricane Katrina inundated New Orleans, threatening to wash away its vibrant musical heritage along with its neighborhoods, the beat goes on. As Bronwyn Benito and Faith Lapidus report, a Musicians' Village is preserving the city's unique sound.
Video

Video In Russia, Auto Industry in Tailspin

Industry insiders say country relies too heavily on imports as inflation cuts too many consumers out of the market. Daniel Schearf has more from Moscow.
Video

Video Scientist Calls Use of Fetal Tissue in Medical Research Essential

An anti-abortion group responsible for secret recordings of workers at a women's health care organization claims the workers shown are offering baby parts for sale, a charge the organization strongly denies. While the selling of fetal tissue is against the law in the United States, abortion and the use of donated fetal tissue for medical research are both legal. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.

VOA Blogs

More Americas News

Rio Olympics Official: Water Will Be Clean for Games

Recent report says waters so contaminated with bacteria and viruses from human sewage that athletes could become ill
More

UN: El Nino to Be Among Strongest Since '50s

Meteorologist say climate models suggest water temperatures in the tropical Pacific Ocean are likely to exceed 2 degrees Celsius above average
More

Awaiting American Avalanche, Cubans Rush to the Beach

Locals flood resorts ahead of possible end to the US travel ban that would open the gates to American tourists and bump up prices
More

At Halfway Mark, Mexican President's Approval at New Low

Enrique Pena Nieto faces struggling economy, litany of security and conflict of interest scandals that have undercut his support
More

Santos: Colombia Peace Talks Have Advanced Significantly

The government has been holding negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC, since the end of 2012
More

Brazilian Head of UN Peacekeeping Force in Haiti Dies

Lieutenant General Jose Luiz Jaborandy Jr. died of a heart attack on board a plane from Miami to Brazil on Sunday, according to a UN statement
More