A new vision for agriculture
momagri, movement for a world agricultural organization, is a think tank chaired by Christian Pèes.
It brings together, managers from the agricultural world and important people from external perspectives,
such as health, development, strategy and defense. Its objective is to promote regulation
of agricultural markets by creating new evaluation tools, such as economic models and indicators,
and by drawing up proposals for an agricultural and international food policy.
A look at the news

For Haiti, earthquake and agricultural disaster

18 January 2010

Once again, misfortune seems to strike Haiti, a small island in the American continent and one of the world’s poorest countries. Following the 2008 hurricanes Hanna, Gustav and Ike that hit the city of Gonaives, and the hunger riots that crippled the country, now comes a devastating earthquake that deeply mutilates the country. The toll: An estimated 50,000 to 100,000 deaths, nearly three million people injured or homeless, and countless infrastructures and buildings destroyed…

Yet, as indicated the online publication Slate1, the dreadful toll has nothing to do with a fatality: It is the consequence of ill-adapted economic policies, specially regarding agriculture, during more than 20 years. Because the extent of damages is chiefly rooted in the over-crowded and unhealthy living conditions for the two million living in the harder hit capital city, whose more than 350 shantytowns are among what the American sociologist Mike Davis calls the world’s “30 mega-slums” or “mega-shantytowns”. The phenomenon is rooted in a rural exodus, when the barriers protecting the country’s agriculture fell one after the other to comply with the “law of supply and demand”. International organizations, with the World Bank and IMF in the lead, sped up the process by conditioning their subsidies to a drastic drop in tariffs, thus encouraging massive imports of cheaper international (namely American) agricultural products on the Haitian market. As they cannot compete and match prices to sell, Haitian farmers are progressively leaving their land and moving to the cities. And today’s deforestation, soil erosion and desertification are contributing to wipe out the few remaining farmers…

It is the last straw, when you think that, only 20 years ago, the country could feed 95 percent of its population. Today, over 60 percent of the country’s food consumption relies on imports and international food aid. Even if this is not obviously the sole reason for the Haitians’ poverty and overcrowding, one cannot avoid thinking that, with a population more spread out on the territory, with a sound agriculture that guarantees food security for all and spurs the nation’s economic development, the consequences of natural disasters would be lessened. For many experts, Haiti’s example highlights, and must highlight, the extreme urgency to ensure a country’s agricultural balanced growth before focusing on other economic sectors. In Haiti, the failed economic policies of the past are now translating into thousands of deaths with each natural disaster.

1 One of the largest American online information websites. http://www.slate.fr/

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Paris, 24 April 2019