by Wilgeens Rosenberg
The prognosis of hope for an economic prosperity lies in the hand of the Farmers from the provincial Countryside of Haiti. There is this false notion in Haiti that the land can no longer be harvested as it used to in the past. That is a misconception created in the minds of lazy farmers who do not wish to stick to what they know best wanting to venture out into the main capitals for supposedly self modernization due to lack of respect that city folks transcend to the farmers thus causing the poor farmers to start losing confidence since they are looked down upon by those main capital city folks who often and presumably call them uneducated, illiterate.
Haiti's most important resource and probably her only resource has always been the farming of the land. Farmers used to be hard at work trying to scratch an existence from the soil. However understandably, much is needed to be done on the Government's part for agricultural improvement; but the Government wants to act like economical problems are generally intractable. Although most farmers have abandon their farming posts in the countryside of the Nation, there is the feel that had incentives were given to those farmers they would actually remain at their farming posts. An embarking of a massive Governmental project to provide basic tools to those farmers willing to work the lands is a most either by the help of the 10Th Department of Diaspora abroad to start investing in buying tools from even local Home Depots, Wall-Marts and so forth would help greatly. Already there is a lacking collaboration of local provincial farmers to come together as a community, but what is worse is that the very few willing to work are incapacitated without any help of Governmental support that it has resulted in the case of local priests taking the responsibility of acting official like governance by trying to do the best they could asking for help from US church groups and missionaries.
During my already third visit this year to my mother's homeland of Puerto Plata in the Dominican Republic I took with me a couple of local Haitians and asked them to bring me to the Sugar cane plantation fields that are being operated by hard working laborers of Haitians giving their hard sweats for a couple of pesos to survive and their living conditions there were no better than they would have been in Haiti, yet or nevertheless they were working the land when they could have been doing the same in their very own home country of Haiti. It is all in the misleading conceptions that most Haitians have into thinking the grass is always greener on the other side. Given the small amount they are being paid in the Dominican Republic, those Haitians would have been better off staying in Haiti and work had the Haitian Government been more pro-active and encouraging its Citizens with a little bit of help. In Haiti -- amidst all the worse of negative press coverage in the Media, the people in the northern countryside of the country are very proud people and proud of their cultural heritage of people.
From the Dominican Republic I took a drive across heading into Haiti where I went to Etang Saumatre which is a wondrous amazing place many would not have thought existed in Haiti. There, early in the morning you see women passing by well balancing large straw wooden baskets full of cultivated produce over their heads and some women were on donkeys singing the nicest tunes known to nature heading towards their local market place for their daily workday. At Etang Saumatre where existed the largest lake in Haiti that is filled with all kinds of marine life. The mountain there was so picturesque with a lush forested hills, yet with no obvious presence of any Government. Life over there has an organization of its own. What I saw there was especially nothing the outside world away from Haiti would ever know. This area was in far better condition than I had imagined. People seem to have their own houses, animal barns, neighbors they can count on, and a well respected family structure. One would summarized that life must be great there since I did not see any homelessness or poor health conditions in rural areas there and there is a vast amount of unoccupied lands there.
In addition, education received strong emphasis there, as wherever we went at certain times of day there were large crowds of children in matching uniforms walking to school. It was kind of hard to actually come to accept many statistics given abroad on how illiterate they keep claiming all of of Haiti is. Surely over there at Etang Saumatre that was not the case at all. Some of the kids there even knew three languages. Yes, kids from 6 to 13 years over there were speaking fluent Spanish, french and believe it or not; even better English than most kids living most of their lives in the urban streets of the United States. Those kids understood my every English words I had to speak to them. Perhaps it was partly because many foreign missionaries visit there often.
I am not part of any church organizations, however, the locals seemed to have thought I was. They were shocked when I told them I was there only on vacation. I fit right in and did not experience any signs of discomfort given that I speak Creole and understand quite a great amount of French and Spanish. I left Haiti young and my goal is to return there to take my filming education to showcase the greater side of my home country to the rest of the world.
I must mention, the locals there were very savvy about the politic of the Country. Do not for a second think they do not know what is going on. I took the liberty of engaging into a little political debate or discussion with them where they strongly suggested great ideas as to how the Government can help them which they have expressed candidly that the solution for the country's future relies of working the lands and engaging into massive plantation of trees, growing grass to combat the deterioration of the landscape of the hills and mountains if only the government would step in they claim. It was remarkable how these locals had great ideas about solutions for the problem of erosion, natural disaster such as floods, droughts, and so much more. Agriculture continued to be the mainstay of the economy in the late 1980s. It has employed approximately 66 percent of the labor force and accounted for about 35 percent of Haiti's monetary revenue thus the economy as to include it had made for 24 percent of exports in 1987. The role of agriculture in the economy has declined severely since then. At one point, I was told that such a farming sector employed 80 percent of the labor force, represented 50 percent of the economy in 1990 and contributed 90 percent of exports. Now given Haiti's condition, it is true that many factors have contributed to the decline of the economy drastically . Some of the major ones included the continuing fragmentation of landholdings, low levels of agricultural technology, migration out of provincial rural countryside areas, insecure land tenure, a lack of tools and capital investment. The high commodity taxes, the low productivity of undernourished farmers and whom have gotten lazy and hopeless at continuing to work the land... animal and plant diseases, and inadequate infrastructure. Neither the government nor the private sector invested much in the provincial rural ventures.
Evidently, it was told in fact that in 1995 only 5 percent of the national budget went to the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development (Ministère de l'Agriculture, des Resources Naturelles et du Développement Rural--MARNDR). As Haiti entered the year 2000s, however, the main challenge to agriculture was not economic, but yet is rather ecological. Extreme deforestation, soil erosion, droughts, flooding, and the ravages of other natural disasters had all led to a critical environmental situation.
Haitians abroad has a better chance at helping arouse awareness for the ecological challenges Haiti faces for truly the only solution is to work the land and for the Government to give incentives to farmers and donate tools to local farming committees.
Haiti and its Government need to be specific when asking for foreign aides and not to make their demand so general to the World International bodies that way the Government in Haitian better tackle and address the issues accordingly with their each respective monetary funds provided for each respective cause.