More than 10,000 farmers marched in Haiti last Friday, opposing a $4 million donation of hybrid seeds from the Monsanto Corporation that are being shipped with the support of the Haitian government and under the auspices of USAID. Small farmers -- the backbone of Haiti's agricultural system -- say that since hybrid seeds cannot be saved from season to season, farmers who accept them would have to buy more seeds rather than save indigenous varieties, which risks debt. They walked from Papay to Hinche, the capital of Haiti's humid Central Plateau region, picking up marchers along the way.
At a rally, Chavannes Jean-Baptiste of the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP) burned a fistful of hybrid seeds and then distributed native corn seeds to the crowd. Kettly Alexandre, also of MPP, said of the day: "We have an agriculture of subsistence that permits us to survive. We have a family agriculture. It is up to us to protect our seeds ... For centuries we have produced our own seeds. We cannot now become dependent on a corporation like Monsanto."
Rev. Skye Murray is the coordinator and U.S. Partner of FONDAMA, a coalition of small Haitian farmers.