PRESS RELEASE: May 2, 2016

CONTACT: Claire Gilbert, Grassroots International, (617) 524-1400

More than 60 Haitian and US Organizations Demand USDA Peanut Plan Be Cancelled

Over 60 US and Haitian organizations have joined a letter calling for an immediate cancellation of recent plans announced by the United States Department of Agriculture, USDA, to ship 500 metric tons of peanuts to Haiti under its “Stocks for Food” program.  The organizations represent a broad range of social movements, human rights and development organizations, food sovereignty and agriculture organizations, foundations, community groups and Haitian diaspora groups. Organizations from Haiti include the Haitian Platform to Advocate Alternative Development (PAPDA), the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP), the Rural Coalition, and many others.

The letter draws attention to the devastating consequences this program could have on at least half a million rural people in Haiti, especially women, whose livelihoods depend on peanuts and the production chain to make manba (Haitian peanut butter).  Peanuts are also valued for being drought resistant.

The proposed US “Stocks for Food” peanut program is reminiscent of numerous instances in which the United States has intervened in Haiti’s agriculture to devastating effect.  In the 1980s and 1990s the US exported huge amounts of rice into Haiti, which had previously been self-sufficient in rice.  The result was a flood of cheap rice that undercut Haitian farmers, destroying their livelihoods.  Former president Bill Clinton later apologized for the consequences of these actions, saying, “It may have helped some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it was a mistake.”

Juslene Tyresias, the director of programs of Haiti’s largest peasant organization, the Peasant Movement of Papaye, explained that the US plan to ship peanuts to Haiti is “a plan of death” for Haiti’s small farmers.

The US should support local procurement in Haiti and prioritize a model of cooperation that respects self-determination and the economic independence of the Republic of Haiti.

Full text of the letter available in English and Kreyol, with signatories: HAWG Peanut Letter 05.02.2016