Amid cropland and freshwater shortages, deep-water 'free-range' fish farming gives people protein – and jobs. Modern marine aquaculture could put Haiti on the cutting edge of the fastest-growing global food industry.
Long Beach, Calif.
Like many developing countries, the Republic of Haiti imports most of its food. Of the 31 million eggs the population eats monthly, 30 million are imported from the Dominican Republic next door. Surrounded by the Caribbean Sea, the country spends up to $10 million a year to import twice as much fish as it can catch or raise.
Solving the food-import dilemma with more agricultural production is problematic. Haiti's terrain is mostly mountainous, with little land capable of cultivation. And the dirt-poor country of 10 million people has very limited water resources. Almost every drop of fresh water goes to irrigation, and a growing population strains that supply. The United Nations categorizes these chronic scarcities of cropland and fresh water as "extreme," threatening to provoke civil conflict.
Haiti's complex land tenure system also constrains greater agricultural productivity. Most farmers are peasants without ownership of the postage-stamp-size lots they till. A "Blue Revolution" would provide these landless people with a piece of the sea and a much-needed source of protein.
Worldwide, half the fish consumed by humans is now farmed. It is the fastest-growing form of food production in the world, based on greater productivity of the sea over land. Moreover, none of Haiti's precious freshwater resources would be required for farming fish from the sea.
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