Agriculture is the heart and soul of Haiti. We are a nation of farmers, with an estimated more than two million smallholder farms throughout Haiti. The most important development over the last five years has been the growing understanding and support for the role of the smallholder farmer as a cornerstone of the economy. With the support of domestic and international partners and important networks such as the Clinton Global Initiative Haiti Action Network, Haiti’s agriculture sector is being revived and there is a growing sense of optimism in rural areas as resources begin to shift to reinforce agriculture. While we still have a ways to go, and much more work to be done, across the country, progress is visible. These isolated examples of successful smallholder initiatives have not yet come together to create a movement, but there is a sense of change in the air.
As the co-founder of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, I travel often and meet with farmers around the country to provide training and discuss opportunities for collaboration. Without exception, they all want to be part of improving agriculture in Haiti. They are not asking for handouts, they don’t want charity – they just want a bit of guidance to improve their farming such as better seed quality, good tools, and knowledge of training techniques to know how to improve seed spacing and manage compost, and how to decrease moisture content when drying grain after harvest. These are very basic techniques to which all farmers should have access, which we are able to provide through our network at the Smallholder Farmer’s Alliance. President Clinton understands these challenges and opportunities as well and that is way I believe he has devoted a lot of his Foundation’s time to supporting smallholder farmers – not just in Haiti but also in countries such as Malawi, India, and Colombia.
The millions of smallholder farmers in my country are ready and willing to be part of the change we all feel in the air. Through national and international support, we’re working to translate this feeling to real and tangible outcomes in order to nurture the heart and soul of Haiti. I believe the future is bright for Haitian farmers, and more change will come.