USAID’s Assault on Haitian Agriculture

The US Agency for International Development unveiled the “WINNER” Program¹ in October of 2009, 3 months before the earthquake. The plan was ecological in focus: WINNER would enhance watershed management and conservation, and promote reforestation.

The goals of WINNER shifted, however, in the post-earthquake contractor “gold rush.” With an agenda dominated by Monsanto and DC contractors, the revised WINNER program sold out Haiti’s agriculture. The new focus was on providing hybrid Monsanto seed to Haitian farmers to address a non-existent seed emergency. The following discussion highlights why WINNER is ill-conceived, poorly managed, and likely to hurt Haitian farmers.

WINNER’s Corporate Makeover: Wrong Contractor, Wrong Focus, Wrong Process

USAID hired the notorious firm Chemonics International to implement WINNER

By focusing on subsidized seeds, USAID acted irresponsibly, willfully ignored Haiti’s Needs

WINNER Bypassed Haitian Government

An Unhealthy, Unsustainable Program

Chemically-treated seeds are bad for farmers, environment

Ironically, Monsanto’s donation is setting the stage for a seed crisis in 4 years

  • WINNER will break Haitian seed distribution networks, leaving Haiti dependent long after the program ends. Here’s how:
    Farmers are enticed to buy Monsanto seeds because they’re offered at a 10% the market seed price. Yet, farmers can’t breed and save Monsanto’s hybrid seeds as they do with local varieties. Thus, WINNER disrupts local seed distribution networks as seed suppliers become Monsanto buyers. When WINNER expires in 4 years, Haitian farmers will no longer have subsidized hybrid seeds, but they also won’t have seeds saved up for local markets. The result? A genuine seed crisis.

Why is USAID doing this? Final word goes to ICTA’s head researcher, Louise Sperling: “humanitarian actors… see delivering seed aid as easy and they welcome the overhead [i.e. low administrative costs] – even if their actions may hurt poor farmers.

¹ The terribly cumbersome, seldom used full name is: Watershed Initiative for National Natural Environmental Resources.

 

by Nathan Yaffe

14 Responses to USAID’s Assault on Haitian Agriculture

  1. [...] Case for a Justice Perspective: Media Approaches to Haiti Our last post generated some controversy (although folks emailed their thoughts – let’s have public [...]

  2. [...] has been less than successful and human rights and ID are a tad depressing (See this, this, this, this or this). I need a [...]

  3. [...] the debate over USAID’s agriculture programs in Haiti, a new study in Disasters concludes that disaster relief seeds must be more diverse to [...]

  4. [...] we critiqued USAID’s agriculture program in Haiti. Critique is important, but equally (or more) important is providing positive examples. [...]

  5. [...] It means our aid went to companies like Chemonics and Monsanto, whose damaging work we’ve already discussed, and Clayton Homes. And it means our aid went to support a UN occupation force hated by [...]

  6. #Monsanto + #Haiti = #Evil. Why is it so hard to stop something so obviously evil?

  7. Nathan Yaffe says:

    Mr. Bataille,

    I agree with you completely. It’s remarkable how powerful the “NGO-Big Business Complex” is, and how willing people are to ignore obvious evidence of its harmful effects.

    Thanks for stopping by and commenting.

    -Nathan

  8. [...] Chemonics raises eyebrows for multiple reasons. First, it’s a subsidiary of ERLY Industries, which also owns American Rice. Since the 1980s, American Rice captured half of the Haitian rice market, a shift that Bill Clinton recently admitted was the reason Haiti can no longer feed itself. Moreover, the agricultural program it runs, which revolves around distributing hybrid Monsanto seed, is likely to jeopardize the future of Haiti’s agricultural system. [...]

  9. haitijustice says:

    [...] with Haitian groups at all. The contractor and USAID determine what the contractor will provide (in this case, hybrid seeds), but the contract itself is open-ended. Chemonics receives an “Indefinite” amount of [...]

  10. [...] with Haitian groups at all. The contractor and USAID determine what the contractor will provide (in this case, hybrid seeds), but the contract itself is open-ended. Chemonics receives an “Indefinite” amount of [...]

  11. [...] for the US. Now, however, we’re focused on using our aid for other business purposes, such as replacing Haitian seed distribution networks with Monsanto seed. Because of this, USAID can be honest in discussing the ramifications of food aid imports, whereas [...]

  12. [...] (June 2011) USAID’s Assault on Haitian Agriculture. Haiti Justice Alliance. Available at: http://haitijustice.wordpress.com/2011/06/21/winner-bad-for-haiti/ (Accessed Nov 10, [...]

  13. [...] to research by The Haiti Justice Alliance, USAID has shifted its focus from undermining Haitian rice with cheaper US rice to replacing [...]

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