Will IMF/WB ruin rice production in Sri Lanka as it did in Haiti

There are a few things Sri Lanka & Haiti have in common – that is production of rice.

Within 20 years Haiti turned from a self-sufficient rice producing country to one having to import rice after IMF & WB pressurized Haiti to cut import tariffs on rice from 50% to 3% & cheap subsidized rice from US flooded into Haiti which urban consumers benefitted at the cost of the poor farmer. Haiti now imports 80% of the rice it consumers & in the event of a disaster like covid – when imports cease, Haitians like Sri Lankans will have no food or the food they have been growing have been systematically stopped. It is a pity that even the professionals and academics together with the politicians & their advisors are oblivious to these ground realities & have no clue as to how nations have been brought to their knees by international monetary lenders & their international cartel.

Sri Lanka in particular must look at the Haitian example – Haiti’s population began to get malnourished, rising prices of imported goods provoked riots, these were all planned conditions to allow foreign troops to land & take over Haiti on the pretext of “stabalizing” the nation. Job losses arose from trade liberalization in Haiti and we see a steady closure of SMEs in Sri Lanka while the State is hounding them to pay increased taxes, when they have no revenue to do so.

Both Sri Lanka’s & Haiti’s economic liberalization began in early 1980s. This meant both nations were encouraged to grow & export for the developed world while simultaneously USAID was deployed to destroy Haiti-s rural economy. Is it not surprising that USAID is taking a particular interest in Sri Lanka’s agriculture of late too?

In Haiti, USAID partnered with industrialists and landowners to create agro-processing facilities at the same time promoting subsidized US agri products. This was a subtle restructuring taking place so that US could create manufacturing sites for US companies. To take the land, they needed to destroy the agriculture – is this not what is happening in Sri Lanka! Note the local companies that USAID is suddenly partnering with! After taking over agri-lands, the farmers were encouraged to leave their rural abode & go to towns – the present calls to give land ownership deeds to farmers, is part of this plan for Sri Lanka. The Haiti farmers who had given up their land, their livelihood soon found out too late that they had nothing & were basically on the streets. This is what Sri Lanka’s farmers need to realize before accepting a sham land deed which is nothing but to purchase their land & kick them out of it. Haiti had a mass migration problem – Sri Lanka is likely to face this same issue. Ultimately, the proud farmer would end up having to do menial labor work for survival. This message needs to be taken to Sri Lanka’s farmers before they too face the fate of Haiti’s farmers.

What Haitians did not expect was that after removing Haiti farmers from their agri-lands, foreign agro-industry took over & what they produced was too expensive for the Haitians to afford. Haitians had no relief. Rice import became another foreign intervention as we see happening in Sri Lanka with eggs, onions, manioc being imported while Sri Lanka’s farmers end up destroying what they produce because the import prices are less as a result of the middle man mafia that controls all supply channels.

Both Sri Lanka & Haiti were self-sufficient in rice until 1980s. Noteworthy is how floods ended up destroying crops in both countries & US importing rice to Haiti while Sri Lanka is importing from India (both QUAD partners)

Haiti has witnessed several coups while Sri Lanka saw its first in 2022. In both nations, immediately after regime change, both nations had their economies liberalized, import tariffs slashed, closure of state-owned industries, reducing welfare budgets and giving second place to revive local economy.

Everything “cheap” via imports was the camouflage to fool the masses but within no time the real gameplan became clear but too late. Unfortunately, most Sri Lankans are not well read on global geopolitics and the manner that countries have been destroyed by trade agreements and political interventions. What is disappointing is that the so-called intellectuals in Sri Lanka know far less than the ordinary Sri Lankan.

Haiti did what Sri Lankan politicians shy to do – in 1991, the Aristide Government held meetings with farmer associations & a proposal to have the government buy all Haitian grown rice & limit imports during harvest periods was made. IMF was not too pleased claiming it was “non-free-market’ policy. To pinch the government the imported rice was made cheaper to make consumers buy cheaper foreign rice than what their farmers were growing. President Aristide didn’t get the political support he needed to fend off IMF/USAID pressure and like the opportunists politicians in Sri Lanka, it resulted in Haitians suffering further. It is a calamity that Sri Lanka’s opportunistic & power-hungry politicians are now canvassing to happen in Sri Lanka as well. Eventually Aristide was replaced with a US-backed military junta and US companies began setting shop in Haiti partnering with pro-US local companies. We see this taking place in Sri Lanka too. These deals are nothing to revive Sri Lanka’s economy but to drain out what it can. In Haiti the State apparatus stood spineless & the same is happening in Sri Lanka. Industries began closing. Unequal competition destroyed locals in Haiti & same will happen in Sri Lanka. Tariffs did not protect local products but provided incentives to the foreign ones. In both nations, Governments did not support farming and should have taken Vietnam as an example on how land was to be utilized by its citizens. If US agro-industry is penetrating Haiti, the Indians are doing the same in Sri Lanka. These foreign products are subsidized in numerous trade-manipulated mechanisms enabling them to be sold cheap with long term repercussions locally. Politicians have no pluck or the vision to identify future threats or are not bothered preferring to pass the pillow of trouble to the next government. Corruption is strife in both nations and impedes any prospects to better the situation in either countries. Corruptions also enable multinationals to wriggle through & evade taxes and make off with profits. IMF/WB in fact treated Haiti’s dictator Baby Doc Duvalier as legitimate leader, a factor we can see taking place in Sri Lanka too.

As in the case of both Haiti & Sri Lanka – all the loan givers end up dictating what the loans is to be spent on & how while the loan has to be paid back with interest. These loans that have to be given back end up dictating cuts in welfare measures that particularly target the poor & middle class not the rich or the tax evaders. Taking the closure of state enterprises, maintaining low wages, cutting welfare & subsidies together – the outcome is nothing beneficial though it is the poor & middle class who have end up footing the interest against the loans taken. The loans & interest means Haiti ended up serviicing debt repayments rather than looking after its own people. Sri Lanka is sitting on a volcano after declaring bankruptcy and not repaying any loans but taking more loans from parties that are exerting political pressures and social reforms that are not the least beneficial to the people. Imaging having to agree to roll out promoting people to become transgenders simply to secure a loan and then having to allow all sorts of perversions being promoted as it is part of a psy-ops to destroy the indigenous culture and heritage of the nation while envoys are seen unabashedly promoting these flags and holding processions to celebrate such.

The similarities between Haiti & Sri Lanka are phenomenal. Haiti too was rolled out programs of good governance governmental transparency, anti-corruption campaigns, education reforms, regulating agencies, monitoring mechanisms – but these were primarily to hound out their enemies.

Haiti’s self-sufficiency via rice was systematically destroyed by US, USAID and US companies – a similar scenario is unfolding in Sri Lanka. Let Sri Lanka take Haiti as example to realize where Sri Lanka is heading & to put the necessary stops to ensure that we do not destroy our self-sufficiency or watch it being destroyed. Sri Lanka was afterall known as the Granary of the East – we should not become the Graveyard of the East.

Shenali D Waduge

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