Baseline, Value Chains, & Notab Information Network

Before presenting data and analysis, it should be understood that this report examines life in the rural Grand Anse from the perspective of resiliency and adaptation. People living in the region are adapted to 200-plus years of natural and manmade calamities. Natural calamities include droughts, floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes. Manmade calamities include warfare, political turmoil, corruption, restricted traded, protracted international embargoes, and a State that more often than not has taxed the population through heavy tariffs while making scant to no investment in infrastructure or services. In adapting to such events, farmers in the Grand Anse have clung to zero-risk, zero-investment livelihood strategies. As seen in this report, almost all critical productive technologies on which farmers in the region depend can be produced locally, such as ropes, canoes and rowboats, and virtually anything thing associated with livestock. The vast majority of people depend on their own two feet for transport, they do not use imported fertilizers or pesticides for crops, they do not feed processed foods or supplements to livestock, and most of them do not even use vaccines on their animals. Those imported productive technologies critical to survival are no more complex than machetes and hoes. Water pumps and plows are for the most part irrelevant in the Grand Anse. No farmer would or does depend on them for survival.

Dependency on local or radically simplistic imported technologies is associated with a conservative resistance to change and development. NGO workers and entrepreneurs who have attempted to introduce new, profitable or seemingly life-saving innovations have most often found their projects received with indifference on the part of the farmers. However, it is precisely this near zero-risk, zero-investment approach to productive livelihood strategies that has enabled people in the region to thrive despite the two centuries of calamities described above.

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