Massive importation of eggs and poultry a worry for Central Plateau producers
By Ronel Odatte (and kft, rc)
English | French
Translated from the French by Dady Chery for Haiti Chery
Hinche, Haiti – In the Central Plateau, those who keep hen houses, or live in one way or another from poultry, are angry at Haitian authorities, whom they accuse of taking a passive attitude toward an increased import of eggs and chicken parts into the Haitian market, according to an interview with the online agency AlterPresse.
Poultry farmers in the Central Plateau, close to the Dominican border from which these products come, are most worried.
“Too many people are interested in selling imported chicken parts, and many consume them without flinching. How could I hope to profit from my production of eggs and poultry,”
complained Camille Joseph, a veterinarian and owner of two barns in Papaye (10 km northeast of Hinche).
Joseph urges the Martelly-Lamothe administration to take concrete measures to protect local agricultural production, including livestock. [In 2008 Rene Preval's administration declared an embargo against poultry from the Dominican Republic. DC]
Camille Joseph also encourages people to eat local products to safeguard their own health.
“If you eat eggs and meat from our hen houses, you will live much longer, because they are organic,” she notes.
Young farmer Jonas Louicius, who recently built a small barn in the town of Decide (Juanaria section of the town of Hinche), plans to abort his initiative because the importers of foreign poultry aren’t giving him a break.
“I was selling a very large variety of birds like: guinea fowl, hens, roosters, pigeons, ducks and turkeys. But, because of the foreign imports of poultry, our customers are now turning away,” he says.
In the towns of Mirebalais and Lascahobas in the lower Central Plateau, the sale of imported chickens and other poultry is widespread.
“I will get together with all the ranchers and poultry farmers in the Central Plateau to give a proportional response to this prejudice,”
said producer Waking Novembre, who runs his own barn.
“I have already taken huge losses. Last year (2011) alone, I recorded a deficit of 200,000 Haitian gourdes [$4,650; U.S. $ 1.00 = 43.00 gourdes, 1 euro = 58.00 gourdes]. The influx of Dominican hens forced us to sell ours at a ridiculous price,” added Novembre.
The farmers and peasants who farm and trade in organic chickens in the Central Plateau, expressed their fears about the massive influx of eggs and poultry (from outside Haiti) onto the domestic market.
They complain about being unable to sell their products like before.
Those who sell freshwater fish — from local culture systems in small lakes in the Central Plateau Department — are also affected by a substantial and incessant inflow of imported fish. [Given the USAID tradition of waste dumping into Haiti, if it turns out later that the fish being sold in Haiti are heavily contaminated with pollutants (such as mercury, radiation, etc.), this should come as no surprise. DC]
“People are no longer interested in our poultry because of the influx of imported meats,”
lamented Jacques Macula, a resident of Maissade (upper Central Plateau), who has been selling chickens since 1995.
To have a choice…
Consumers and consumer advocates, for their part, defend themselves by saying they don’t always have a choice.
Mirana Sarius, a 26-year-old woman from Cite Silence — a neighborhood of Hinche — says she prefers to buy imported meats and eggs because they are cheaper.
“With 150.00 gourdes ($3.50), we can get several pieces of chicken and even a decent-size fish,”
she argues, juggling the variables of comparison shopping.
“I know very well that these products could affect my health. But what interests me at the moment is how much,”
she acknowledges, however.
There are too many imported products on the local market. People have no alternative but to pick those most accessible and dangerous, argues Philippe Florestan, a carpenter from Hinche’s city center (upper Central Plateau).
“To buy organic eggs from the local market I need 20.00 gourdes (46 cents), whereas eggs imported from the Dominican Republic or the U.S. cost 14.00 gourdes (32 cents). Is it unfair to want to save 6.00 gourdes (14 cents)?” Florestan asked herself.