From Sat Jan 18 08:00:16 2003
Date: Fri, 17 Jan 2003 20:28:05 -0600 (CST)
From: =?iso-8859-1?Q?Haiti_Progr=E8s?= <>
Subject: This Week in Haiti 20:44 1/15/2003
Article: 150196 To: undisclosed-recipients:;

Fertilizer corruption?

Haiti Progres, Vol. 20 no. 44, 15—21 January 2003

Peasants in Haiti’s lush rice-growing Artibonite Valley are outraged by the soaring price of fertilizer, which has seen a 400% increase in the past two months.

They charge that merchants are hoarding fertilizer and then jacking up the price. This practice could be facilitated by fertilizer’s arcane distribution method.

The government-run Organization for the Development of the Artibonite Valley (ODVA) receives a shipment of fertilizer and then distributes coupons to planter associations. The coupons, which are valid for only two days, allow the associations to buy a bag of fertilizer direct from ODVA for 170 gourdes ($4.59). The association pays for the fertilizer at the local branch of SocaBank, and then returns to ODVA to pick up the quantity of sacks they paid for.

>From August through October, the government delivered fertilizer to ODVA. During that time, a bag of fertilizer sold in local stores for 225 to 250 gourdes ($6.08—$6.76). But after the shipments stopped, the price shot up during November and December to 1100 gourdes ($29.73).

It is rumored that some planter associations, unable to meet the two day deadline, sell their coupons to merchants, who buy the fertilizer cheaply to make a killing later. Others question if racketeers set up phony planter associations to buy up fertilizer with coupons to sell on the black market. There are also charges that ODVA employees sell coupons on the side.

We will block the National Highway running through the Artibonite if ODVA doesn’t come up with some fertilizer to distribute to the peasants, Andri St. Louis of the Federation of Planters’ Associations told Radio Ginen. Peasants can’t afford a a bag of fertilizer for 1100 or 1150 gourdes. It’s impossible.