Thursday, July 27, 2006
In Haiti, the streets burst with activity and people
Haiti is the poorest nation in the western Hemisphere. 80% of its population lives in extreme poverty. The average life expectancy is 53 years old and unemployment is estimated to be at 50-70%. They tell me here that typical Haitians often skip 1 or 2 meals each day because there is not enough to eat. Most of the Haitians I have met seem to skip lunch regularly and just wait until Dinner to eat. Their stomach has shrunk to accommodate their ability to eat.
While in Cap-Haitien, I met a not-so-typical agricultural producer. Accene Augustin is a beekeeper who is also involved in growing fruit products, raising rabbits (elevage de lapin,) chicken, goat meat and more…. He is from the Grande Riviere about 26 km from Cap-Haitien, which takes 1.5 hours to reach the Cap on a good day. He has to bring his products to Cap-Haitien each week when in season. He is very active in the promotion of the Ag and Natural Resouces sector and Accene is the representative for the North to Association Nationale des Transformateur de Fruits (ANATRAF)… He was one of the founders of MAKAGE where he represents his commune (a commune is a district in his region.) He reports that the people of his commune have projects for preserving some fruits or drying. They make syrups and liquors from some of the fruits and honey. “Pladeg” is the name of the liquor or syrup/sugar that is made locally and MAKAGE sells it. There is a lot of outside competition for products from exterior markets such as the Dominican Republic which sends dozens of trucks filled to the rim each day. These mass-produced produce and staples most often are sold at lower prices and have better, more acceptance from the public. The cost in Haiti for sugar, energie etc.. is very costly and homemade Haitian goods cannot compete.