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Haiti: Farmers in Northeast launch seed bank to combat hunger

In June, Centre d’Agriculture Saint Barnabas (CASB), and Organisation Peuple Œcuménique pour le Developpment du Nord-Est (OPODNE) formalized an agreement to establish a seed bank in Northeast Haiti.  OPODNE leadership teams have organized teams of farmers in sevent communities to clear land and begin planting corn, beans, black eye peas, peppers and okra as a model to revitalize small-scale farming and combat hunger. Working in the tradition of “Kombit” farmers have signed an agreement to purchase seeds, cultivate crops and return harvested seeds toward next year’s planting.

This effort is rooted in the OPODNE “Today we plant so tomorrow we can eat” campaign that started by listening to 4,400 farmers and researching ways to meet their needs for tools, irrigation and seeds. OPODNE’s vision is to establish tool banks, a seed bank and irrigation systems that can serve all the small-scale farmers in the North and Northeast Departments.

OPODNE along with Haitian diaspora allies from Faith in Action affiliates in the United States have been pressing the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to support small-scale farmers. USAID encouraged CASB and OPODNE to apply for funding to support the Northeast Seed Bank from their locally-led development program, but then turned down the proposal, saying that Haiti was not eligible. OPODNE followed up with a letter to USAID Administrator Samantha Power demanding that USAID take eight steps to change its approach to food sovereignty in Haiti.

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