• News

  • Sports

  • Health

  • Uncategorized

  • SOCIÉTÉ

  • In English

  • Opinions

  • POLITIQUE

  • ariel henry

Loading

News

1 / 1

El Nio is affecting farmers in Haiti

  • March 27, 2024
  • 10
  • 8
el-nio-is-affecting-farmers-in-haiti

The little-explained phenomenon is wreaking havoc

Read this article in French

A drought caused by the meteorological phenomenon El Niño, exacerbated by climate change and environmental degradation, is sweeping across the country and accelerating the food crisis in various localities.

With a broken voice, a young farmer from Marfranc speaks of it as a true catastrophe for the Grand’Anse department: «I lost my banana crops and a good portion of my pigs,» says Alex Séjour in an interview with AyiboPost. «The plants were stunted by the drought. I lost my investments.»

The entire Southern peninsula is affected by this drought, according to the latest report from the National Coordination for Food Insecurity (CNSA), published in January 2023.

The entire Southern Peninsula is affected by this drought.

«A natural phenomenon, the El Niño, occurs every 4 years and brings with it heatwaves and a drastic decrease in rainfall, leading to the observed drought,» analyzes agronomist Talot Bertrand. The engineer is also the Secretary-General of the Promotion for Development (PROMODEV).

This phenomenon affects several countries in Latin America, including Peru and Ecuador. «During El Niño periods, we don’t generally observe significant cyclonic activity,» continues Talot Bertrand. «In 2022, for example, there were hardly any hurricanes in the Caribbean, especially in Haiti.»

The landscape in affected areas takes on a sad and bare appearance. Drinking water becomes scarce. «There is no more cassava, no more sugar cane, no more breadfruit, no more beans,» says farmer Alex Séjour. «We can hardly find anything to eat or even to send to the markets in Port-au-Prince.»

The phenomenon affects several countries in Latin America, including Peru and Ecuador.

In recent years, El Niño has occurred with much greater intensity. It used to happen every 4 years and typically lasted 6 months.

«But with the extent of global warming and the accelerated deforestation of recent years, El Niño is becoming erratic. It can extend beyond its usual duration and therefore prolong periods of scarce rainfall,» observes agronomist Talot Bertrand.

Haiti’s predominantly rain-fed agriculture is therefore facing major challenges. Rebetha Charles is an agronomist and head of REB Lokal, a local product processing company based in Jérémie. The company is in crisis.

«When it doesn’t rain, farmers are unable to produce, which means that we cannot find the raw materials to process either,» says Charles. «Local products have become scarce, and prices have risen.»

The landscape in affected areas takes on a sad and bare appearance. Drinking water becomes scarce.

The environmental problems in Haiti aggravate the situation. Paul Judex Edouarzin is a specialist in environmental governance. He has worked extensively on the El Niño phenomenon in several departments of the country. For him, the impact of climate change remains certain. But it is also important to consider environmental degradation.

Read also : The emergency of climate change in photos at Villa Kalewès

Due to these two factors, he explains, there is a disruption in the alternation between the rainy and dry seasons in the country.

Additionally, the specialist continues, the seasons can alternate and extend abnormally. «In certain areas, like in Saint-Michel de l’Attalaye for example, we saw a dry season of up to 8 months according to a farmer,» says Judex Edouarzin.

Haiti’s predominantly rain-fed agriculture is therefore facing major challenges.

Although attention has been focused on Grand’Anse recently, several other departments such as the Artibonite and the North are also affected by rain scarcity, causing land and some rivers to dry up.

According to the CNSA bulletin published on March 17 this year, 49% of Haitians are food insecure. More than half of the country is waiting for assistance to avoid falling into famine, according to the United Nations.

Drought is among the factors cited to explain these alarming figures, alongside rising inflation and insecurity.

The Southern Peninsula, consisting of the South, Nippes, and Grand’Anse departments, represents, according to this report, nearly 50% of the country’s annual agricultural production.

In these different regions, livestock is dying due to the disappearance of vegetation. Farmers complain of crop losses. The water in rivers and groundwater is decreasing significantly. The drought is hitting wildlife and flora very hard.

In these different regions, livestock is dying due to the disappearance of vegetation.

Additionally, Haiti has a serious problem with irrigating agricultural land. According to a 2019 report, less than 10% of the country’s agricultural land is irrigated. Therefore, when it doesn’t rain, it becomes almost impossible for farmers to work.

The opposite of El Niño is called La Niña. La Niña is characterized by heavy rains, strong winds, and floods. In 2016, Haiti experienced La Niña during Hurricane Matthew’s passage through the Grand Sud region.

These phenomena are considered «manageable» according to specialists. However, authorities from the Ministries of the Environment and Agriculture must act «without delay to help farmers in great difficulty,» agronomist Talot Bertrand admonishes.

«Proper management of Parc Macaya, the largest biosphere reserve in the Caribbean according to UNESCO, Parc La Visite, and the Pine Forest will be enough to bring rain to the country,» insists Talot Bertrand, who advocates for an environmental and agricultural policy focused on raising awareness and supporting farmers to «face the climate challenges of the years to come.»

By Wethzer Piercin

English translation by Sarah Jean.

Cover photo: A farmer weeding in his garden. | © freepik

This article was updated on March 20, 2023, at 10:43 p.m. to replace the CNSA’s January figures (45%) with those from March (49%) on food insecurity.

author avatar
Wethzer Piercin