Inside USA travels to Haiti to look at how the stories of politics, rice, and the United States are deeply interwoven.
Twenty years ago, Haiti produced enough rice to feed its population. Importing rice from other countries like the US was unheard of.
Today, the country of less than 10 million people is the third largest importer of US rice in the world — 75 per cent of the rice eaten in Haiti is shipped in from the US.
Great for farmers in places like Arkansas and Missouri but devastating for farmers in the Artibonite valley, which used to be Haiti’s rice bowl.
And now that Haiti is utterly dependent on imported food, the entire country is vulnerable to the mood swings of the global market. So when the price of rice doubled in the last year, the majority of Haitians, who live in bitter poverty, got slammed.
In an election year, Americans are also facing skyrocketing food prices, while Congress just passed a farm bill that includes almost a billion dollars a year for rice farmers in the US.
On this week’s Inside USA, we look at the politics of rice and the policies forged in Washington, felt in Haiti.