By Jane Regan and Marcela Valente
Neither hurricanes nor floods, nor the devastating January earthquake or Haiti’s chronic political instability managed to wipe out the organic gardening initiative underway in that country since 2005. The seed was planted in Argentina twenty years ago.
Some 13,000 Haitian families (90,000 people in all) currently work with 23 agronomists in the “ti jaden òganik” (Creole for “small organic garden”) project, growing their own food. The goal is to engage one million people in this form of production.
The aim of the programme, which began in Argentina under the name Pro-Huerta and is known in French as Programme d’Autoproduction d’Aliments Frais (“Self-Sufficient Fresh Vegetable Programme”), is to promote organic gardens in both cities and rural areas
So when the Haitian capital and several smaller cities and towns were devastated by the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake, which killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.3 million homeless, some families had their own garden production to fall back on and cover some of their food needs, agronomist Emmanuel Fenelon, director of the programme in Haiti, told IPS.
“Some families told us they were glad they didn’t have to stand in line all the time to suffer the humiliation of asking for food,” Fenelon said.
The initiative first emerged in Argentina in 1990, where it has since grown to 630,000 gardens and farms distributed in 3,500 urban and rural settings across the South American country. The model has also been replicated in other countries of the region, including Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Venezuela.
“We interact in one form or another with places all over the region. There are all sorts of initiatives, which either replicate the model or take some elements from it, and there’s also an international course to provide training in other countries,” agronomist Roberto Cittadini, Pro-Huerta coordinator in Argentina, told IPS.
But “the Haitian experience has been particularly successful because a great deal has been achieved without considerable inputs or efforts,” Cittadini said.
According to Cittadini, with a 100-metre garden a family can grow enough food to cover its needs, but a space half that size is also good. And community or church plots can be used too.
Read more here