Bernie Anderson
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the blog

Current musings, whatever they may be. 

the evil of flooding a nation with peanuts

This issue makes me angry. So I am sharing it here.

According to a report earlier this month from NPR, the US intends to ship 500 metric tons of peanuts to the impoverished nation of Haiti. There are excess peanut crops here, and hungry school children there. Therefore, the USDA decided to get involved with a "humanitarian effort" by sending excess peanuts to kids living in the slums of our Caribbean neighbor.

Seems logical. Right?

It's actually a bad idea.

This sort of activity is called "crop dumping" and it is not going to help Haiti. This action by our government will hurt Haiti.

There are over a half million people in Haiti who make their living on growing and harvesting peanuts. According to the NPR story above, most of these farmers are women. If the tiny, impoverished island nation is flooded by free peanuts from the US, nobody is going to buy locally grown, protein rich legumes. That makes sense. Why would anyone pay for something when it's handed to them for free?

The 500,000+ Haitian peanut farmers will no longer have a livelihood. An already precarious economy will be shoved further into a financial hole. Money will not be exchanged, and half-million more people will be unemplloyed in a country that's already experiencing a 40% unemplyment rate (one of the highest in the world). All because of free peanuts.

The US has a history of crop dumping in the name of "Food Aid", with an oftentimes more insidious loan behind the "aid". Food insecurity in several nations in southeast Asia and Africa has been the result of this behavior.

Local is almost always a better solution

Giving peanuts to people who live on peanuts is not a solution to the complex and deeply rooted issues inside the nation of Haiti.

Free trade is not always free — especially for those who don't have the power or ability to say "no". It is an evil thing for nations with power to perpetuate broken systems by leveraging those systems to their own advantage and other's harm.

Help Haiti by empowering Haitians, not by giving them free peanuts.