Haiti: Land use and the environment

By Fabienne Jean | Coordinator for FONDAMA

photo credit Cindy Corell

Edouard Joel, a farmer in Torbeck, Haiti, shows the results of corn planted on a farm near his home. Joel and most of his neighbors lost their crops in Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 4, 2016. When Presbyterian Disaster Assistance partnered with FONDAMA, 5,000 families were able to replant gardens and community cornfields to recover and continue their lives and livelihoods. Unlike large plantations and agribusinesses, small stakeholder farms give families the opportunity to plant and harvest their own crops.


Before it was colonized, the island     of Haiti was inhabited    by a people who depended mainly and traditionally on natural resources. These people lived and produced their food with methods that respected the

Pachamama,” a term meaning “Our mother, the earth.”

With the Treaty of Ryswick (1697), the island of about 29,418 square miles was split. The Dominican Republic, in the East, makes up about 64 percent of the territory, and the Republic of Haiti occupies the western third of the island. From its beginning, Haiti was essentially agricultural. Haiti was the most prosperous colony of France thanks to its plantations of coffee, cocoa, sugarcane and indigo, among so many goods.

Although considered one of the poorest countries, Haiti today is still one of the most coveted because of its many natural resources:  its minerals, waterfalls, beaches and high-quality labor. All of this fuels the interest of multinationals to build industrial and agricultural-free zones, major tourist sites and other investments that take up a large geographic footprint.

As recently as 2012, major decisions were adopted to make the multinationals more profitable.  Unfortunately a “green economy” strategy actually captured the planet’s natural resources, to eliminate peasant agriculture and replace it with industrial agriculture or agribusiness.

Peasant agriculture — or small stakeholder farming — uses practices and methods that respect the rights of the land, healthy food and the environment. It also respects the rights of current and future generations.

Meanwhile, the promoters of the so-called “green economy” thought they would solve the world’s hunger problems by modifying seed genes in the laboratory to yield more crops, producing chemical pesticides and fertilizer.  Also, the production and processing of industrial foods is a main cause of climate change.  In addition, the model of industrial agriculture has already grabbed a significant portion of land, water, and energy in order to produce food consumed on the planet.

We are concerned and for good reason, about the effects of industrial agriculture and greenhouse gas emissions; carbon dioxide and methane are harmful to our health, but also for our climate and the entire planet.

On the other hand, with the little land, water, and energy remaining, the peasants’ agriculture is producing the vast majority of products consumed on the planet — and helping cool the earth.

In its struggle for the safeguarding and protection of the land, the defense of the environment and food sovereignty, FONDAMA’s mission is to bring together peasant organizations from all over the country to say no to land grabbing and climate injustice, and to fight for food sovereignty and to protect our land and our environment.

Thus, as it does every year with the support of its member and allied organizations, on the occasion of the World Earth Day, Fondama will organize a large conference including the press, the members of the government and the other actors to continue to challenge leaders and people of the planet to change their behavior. Our objective will be to contribute more to help cities and communities around the world accelerate the transition to a more sustainable future. We must help them understand how we are responsible for the planet and how our actions have a destructive or protective effect on it.




Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.