By Mina Remy
September 10th, 2012
The United States is facing its worst drought in nearly 50 years. Not alone in its extreme weather, parts of Africa, Australia, Europe, Asia (especially India) and South America are in the same boat. And while the drought certainly affects people in these nations directly, the impact may be felt as much – if not more – in the small Caribbean nation of Haiti, for reasons as complex and numerous as import-dependent food systems, lack of agricultural investment, and just plain bad luck and timing (from earthquakes to floods to global climate disruption).
By Mina Remy
September 4th, 2012
Before I arrived at Grassroots International (nearly a year ago), I thought I understood the hardships imposed on Gaza. I knew about the imposed siege, had read and heard of the Turkish flotilla of 2010 and other humanitarian attempts to reach Gaza. I even knew about loss of acres of farmland, inadequate access to potable water, shortage of medicines, shortage of building materials, and periodic bombardment by the Israeli Defense Forces.
They left San Vicente searching for a peaceful place to live, free of the oppressive British colonial powers. Three thousand women, men and children sailing atop the blue waters of the Caribbean Sea were thirsty and hungry. The sun over their heads was abrasive. Many perished before reaching the island of Roatan, Honduras, their new home. Today, many of their Garifuna heirs, an Afro-descendant population in the Caribbean coast of Central America, are still struggling for days of peace, like their ancestors envisioned some 213 years ago.
Two weeks ago, Haitian President Michel Martelly toured Caracol Industrial Park in the Northeast Department with stops at the Park’s power plant and future employee housing site. He also used his visit as an opportunity to urge the project’s construction workers to “give the best of themselves in building this new Haiti.”
In rural areas like Seu Lazaro’s community in the state of Goiás, Brazil, vendors of genetically modified seeds used to drop by with wide smiles and black suitcases full of samples and colorful catalogues. Their dusty cars, parked in the middle of the road, are a map of their sales route across miles of unpaved, bumpy roads. According to Seu Lazaro, these vendors (often trained agronomists) go from house to house trying to convince peasant farmers to buy seeds, chemical fertilizers and pesticides by promising lush crops and a good return in the investment.
Those promises convinced Seu Lazaro’s father to use GM seeds, who then convinced him.
In anticipation of World Environment Day today, June 5, 2012, Haiti’s Minister of Environment, Joseph Ronald Toussaint, and the Martelly government proclaimed June Environment Month in Haiti. The theme for this year’s month-long celebration is, “A Green Economy for an Environmentally Viable, Sustainable, and Just Haitian Society.” As part of Environment Month, a member of the ministry’s cabinet indicated that the ministry would like to hold a general State of the Environment Conference with stakeholders on June 7-8, 2012.