Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP)
June 25th, 2010
By Alisa Pimentel
Among the almost 20,000 activists gathered in Detroit for the US Social Forum this week are several Grassroots International partners and allies. Grassroots International regularly provides funding to our partners and allies to participate in movement-building and leadership development gatherings.
No one denies that Haiti needs seeds and support this planting season, as the population still faces steep challenges since January’s devastating earthquake. Many thousands have fled urban areas for the countryside, taxing already strained resources and causing many rural communities to re-purpose for food the seeds set aside for planting.
But is any seed a good seed? No, says Chavannes Jean-Baptiste and other Haitian activists. Chavannes is the executive director of Grassroots International partner the Peasant Movement of Papaye (MPP).
By Beverly Bell
May 20th, 2010
"A new earthquake" is what peasant farmer leader Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) called the news that Monsanto will be donating 60,000 seed sacks (475 tons) of hybrid corn seeds and vegetable seeds, some of them treated with highly toxic pesticides. The MPP has committed to burning Monsanto's seeds, and has called for a march to protest the corporation's presence in Haiti on June 4, for World Environment Day.
Grassroots International had been hearing from our partners in Haiti, both the peasant movements as well as the urban-based coalitions, that they were extremely disheartened by their exclusion from the development of plans for Haiti’s relief and reconstruction. Since the week after the earthquake, our partners have shared with us several thoughtful and powerful statements that outline the key principles and strategies necessary for a more just renewal of Haiti - from their perspective. Grassroots International has been sharing their statements as widely as possible – working to insert and amplify their voices within the larger policy debates.
Last August, I stood in Haiti’s Artibonite valley with several peasant organizers and looked out at the mountains leading up to the Central Plateau. The older leaders in the group explained in depth how green the mountains once were, while the younger organizers and I listened in amazement. The tropical lime forests they described from their past were the antithesis of the sandy naked slopes we saw in the distance.
On the cusp of Haiti’s spring planting season, we received urgent requests from our partners and allies in Haiti about their dire need for seeds and tools to ensure that food production would be secured in the immediate planting season -- this is all the more important in the aftermath of the devastating earthquake and the massive migration to rural areas from Port-au-Prince.
Grassroots International is making three new grants of $25,000 each, all of which will help provide seeds, tools and training for this planting season to these groups:
- The Peasant Movement of Papaye (the MPP). Funds for the MPP will cover the Central Plateau.
We plant but we can’t produce or market. We plant but we have no food to eat. We want agriculture to improve so our country can live and so we peasants can live, too.
(Rilo Petit-homme, peasant organizer from St. Marc, Haiti)
What would it take to transform Haiti’s economy such that its role in the global economy is no longer that of providing cheap labor for sweatshops? What would it take for hunger to no longer be the norm, for the country no longer to depend on imports and hand-outs, and for Port-au-Prince’s slums no longer to contain 85% of the city’s residents?
Since a devastating earthquake shook Haiti more than two weeks ago, Grassroots International’s partners on the ground have been working to assess the situation and respond to the needs of the community – even as they themselves have suffered great losses. With help from hundreds of people who have donated in response to the crisis, Grassroots International has made three initial grants to three of our partners in Haiti.
Grassroots International ally Food First's executive director Eric Holt-Jimenez wrote recently -- on HuffPost -- on the long roots of the disaster in Haiti. His point about the "historic bleeding of Haiti's economy and the systematic undermining of its political institutions" being at the root of the disaster as much as the "tectonics that leveled Port-au-Prince" is right on the mark. Grassroots' partners and allies in Haiti have long struggled against that bleeding and undermining, and fought for better Haitian and international policies on agriculture, trade, and food that would sustain their people, and their land.
Via Campesina calls for Solidarity with Haiti including Haitian peasant movements in aftermath of earthquake
Grassroots International partner La Via Campesina, a global network of peasant, family farmer and small producer movements more than 100 million strong, and with members in Haiti issued this call for solidarity with Haitians including the peasant population.