After Hurricane Matthew, Haiti has lost its breadbasket
Mist begins its usual descent around her small house but tonight is not like the rest, and Marie-Therese Jean won’t be cooking a warm meal over a few coals.
Her garden has been destroyed by the torrents of rain from Hurricane Matthew and she has no food stored up.
“My small field of peas is ruined and look at the carrots, nothing’s left,” lamented the 56-year-old woman gazing at the ground now filled with rocks.
“I lost my 10 animals during the storm — the goats, the pig — they were swept away by the water,” said Jean, who lives with her daughter and two grandsons in the poorest country in the western hemisphere.
In Kenscoff, a district in the heights of the area near the capital Port-au-Prince, each scrap of available land has been worked by the town’s impoverished inhabitants.
But when Hurricane Matthew roared in Tuesday, many of the small gardens on the steep hillsides were washed away within hours.
While Port-au-Prince was relatively spared by the monster storm, which ravaged the country’s south, its breadbasket in the the Massif de la Selle mountain range was devastated.
On the plateau where the capital is located, the national park clocked winds at 200 kilometers (125 miles) per hour.
The destruction of the farming activity means that scarce food supplies will make prices soar in the markets of the capital.
In Port-au-Prince and its metropolitan region, where a third of the country’s 10 million people are concentrated, 80% of the households live below the poverty line, struggling every day to get enough to eat.
Winthrop Athie, a founding member of Seguin Foundation, a group dedicated to preserving Haiti’s natural resources, warned the hurricane’s damage to agricultural zones could lead to widespread famine.
“The country won’t be able to recover in 10 years,” Athie said.
“We need a Marshall Plan, we need to create jobs and rapidly. If we continue to get the same aid, there’ll be no results and famine will grip the country.”
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