When a massive earthquake struck Haiti in January, 2010, it shone a spotlight on the need to ease the dangerous overcrowding in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. So, after responding to the disaster with emergency programs, Oxfam shifted some of our focus to the countryside. Together with our partners, we ramped up our efforts to reinvigorate the rice economy of the Artibonite Valley, with the goals of reducing rural poverty, contributing to food security in Haiti, and—by making rice farming more viable —counteracting the continuous pull to migrate from the country to the city. As Oxfam’s Elizabeth Stevens reports in a series of blog posts, Haiti’s rice farmers are embracing the program and making it their own.
Here in the lush Artibonite Valley—a region that produces an abundance of rice—the farmers are poor. Undercut in the market by cheap imported rice and lacking the basic governmental supports that farmers in wealthy countries take for granted, Haiti’s small-scale rice growers can barely eke out a living.