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May 15, 2010

Monsanto Donates $4M in Conventional Seeds to Haiti

Monsanto announced on 14 May 2010 that it was donating $4 million worth of conventional corn and vegetables seeds to Haiti to assist in recovery efforts following the January 2010 earthquake. 

The Haitian Ministry of Agriculture has approved the donation noting that the seeds are "appropriate for Haitian growing conditions and farming practices. "  The donation includes up to 475 tons of conventional corn, cabbage, carrot, eggplant, melon, onion, tomato, spinach and watermelon seeds.

Monsanto's seeds are being shipped by U.S. based United Parcel Service (UPS) and Switzerland-based logistics firm Kuehne and Nagel.  Both companies are donating their services. The first installment, weighing 60 tons arrived the second week of May.  Following shipments will arrive over the next twelve months.

On the ground in Haiti, seed distribution is being overseen by WINNER, a project funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). According to Jean Robert Estimé, director of WINNER, the  "goal is to reach 10,000 farmers this growing season with these seeds ... The vegetables and grain these seeds will produce will help feed and provide economic opportunities for farmers, their families and the broader community. Agriculture is key to the long-term recovery.” WINNER will work to ensure that "farmer stores use earned revenue from the crops to reinvest in other inputs to support farmers in the future. The farmer associations alone will receive revenue from the sales."

According to the World Bank, "Haiti’s prime planting season is from mid-March through the end of May, and accounts for 60% of the country’s agricultural production. ... nearly 2.4 million Haitians are still food-insecure following the January earthquake, and farming and agriculture will be critical to a long-term, sustainable recovery."

Historical Note: Neither article cited below mentions that the director of WINNER, Jean Robert Estimé is former Foreign Minister Haiti (1982-1985) who served in this position under Haitian ruler Jean-Claude Duvalier (nicknamed Bébé Doc or Baby Doc).  Duvalier was ousted by a popular uprising in 1986.  His administration has was known for appointing numerous "technocrats."  In 2005, Estimé travelled to Washington, D.C. to smooth over allegations of human rights abuses in Haiti and to request increased food assistance from the Bush administration.

Photo Credit: Haitians planting after the earthquake, courtesy of PBS Newhours and the FAO.

For more see: "Monsanto Donates $4 Million to Haiti," VOA News, 15 May 2010.

"Monsanto Donates Conventional Seeds To Haitian Farmers," CropLife.com, 14 May 2010.

About Margaret

CEO and Curator (The Food Museum) | Managing Director and Chief Editor (GR2 Global LLC) | Educator (UCLA PhD) | Researching and writing on global food issues, nutrition and health, sustainability, history (preservation), conservation (natural resources), and design.
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