Root Cause Problems/ Testimony of Farmer 11

Lionne - April 24 2008, 6:58 PM

Inodil Fils, Ségur, Petite Rivière de l'Artibonite, Artibonite Department
53
In 1980 I had around 3.5 hectares of land: 80 per cent was planted with rice, though I also
grew tomatoes, peas, corn and melon.

I used to produce 120 bags of rice (50kg each) per
hectare.

At that time I had four children.

All of them were in school.

I was very happy and satisfied that
my family's needs were being met. We ate meat with every meal and were able to drink juice
as well. I also had some savings and I put that into a local cooperative.

But in the last 25 years things have got much worse.

I make a lot less money and we don't
eat well anymore.

We can only have meat on Sundays.

I have no savings and am no longer
with the cooperative.

I have eight children now but none of my younger children are in school
and the youngest ones hardly had any schooling at all. I just can't afford it. I feel full of shame
sometimes when I go out because I know I cannot meet my family's needs even though I
work very hard. People will think I am lazy, but really I don't sit around with my arms folded.

It is liberalisation that has made me poor. It has destroyed my life and now I can only survive
by taking on more debt. With liberalisation my production costs went up. In 1980 fertiliser was
40 gourdes ($1.80) a bag. Now it is 1,500 gourdes ($68.20) a bag. At the same time the price
of rice in Haiti has fallen.

I cannot compete in this situation and even when I produce a lot, it is
hard to sell. I now produce much less rice than before and my income has fallen to almost
half what it was in 1980.
I know many small rice farmers who have abandoned their farms and migrated to the Dominican Republic.

Now it is hard to find people to work on my farm with me. My neighbors have left their wives and children.

Sometimes they don't even contact them. The only reason I have stayed in the community is because I am part of a small farmers' organization.

I hope we will be able to organize ourselves and work to change this situation and the policies of this government.

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