Haiti’s Employment Push Turns To Textiles As Farming Tradition Uprooted
After the catastrophic earthquake in Haiti three years ago, it received billions of dollars in international aid for its restructure and now the country is attempting to stand on own feet and determined to go back in the basics of employment market. The experts are divided between agriculture and garment export industry as the right preference for recovery. A major part of the Haitian population is poorly paid and is engaged in textile industries that manufacture T-shirts for large American conglomerates; it takes a batch of 19 workers to make 300 dozens T-shirts a day to earn minimum wage. A prominent textile businessman George Sassine said, these jobs in textile industry is not a solution for economic recovery but surely a pre-requisite for that.
Wilson Laleau, a trained economist and the finance minister of Haiti has told that, we need basic job for unskilled people of Haiti; people have to be trained for productive vocational jobs. Agriculture has long been the stronghold of Haiti’s economy but it has remained underfunded for a long time and presently contributes only 25% of GDP, compared to 55% in 1980s. One third of the harvest goes wasted due to poor handling and lack of storage facilities. The Haitian government is taking every measure possible to make agriculture more productive by boosting export, creating organic agricultural zone and others.
Lionel Delatour, a government adviser has doubts whether agriculture can really solve Haiti’s employment issues. Unemployment is 40% in the country and the Gross National Income at $760 is one seventh of neighboring Dominican Republic. He advocates in favor of Textile export because it accounts for 90% of country’s total export with $800 million revenue; it is second after “Diaspora Remittances”, the highest source of foreign exchange in the country. He claims Haiti has advantage of abundant cheap labor over its other competitors like Bangladesh, Vietnam and Cambodia.