A Pig Party raises money for the Creole pig repopulation program. Invite a few friends and watch Grassroots' documentary "Haiti's Piggy Bank." With the games and activities in our Pig Party Packet, you will learn about Haiti's Creole pig and its important role in peasant life. You'll discuss how international pressure was used to nearly exterminate this important resource. And you'll talk about the efforts now under way to bring back the Creole pig.
The story of the "peasant's piggy bank"
Narrated by award-winning Haitian author Edwidge Danticat, "Haiti's Piggy Bank" explores the story of this unattractive yet winsome little pig that meant so much to a country's economy and stability.
For generations, the Haitian Creole pig had been a poor Haitian family’s most important economic asset. Rugged foragers that coped well in Haiti’s tropical climate, Creole pigs were cheap and easy for peasant families to raise. Beyond meat, the pigs' real significance lay in their role as a “peasants’ savings bank”— an asset that could easily be tapped into when cash was needed.
The eradication of the pig
In 1983, swine flu broke out in the Dominican Republic, Haiti’s neighbor on the island of Hispaniola. When a few cases of the disease were found in Haiti, the US became fearful that the epidemic might penetrate its own important pork industry.
The US government cited the interests of the US pork industry when it pressured the Duvalier dictatorship to eradicate the Haitian Creole pig. Peasants were forced, often at gunpoint, to bring their pigs to eradication centers to be destroyed.
The failure of the quick-fix
Soon after the eradication, a shipment of US-bred pigs arrived from Iowa to replace the lost Creole pigs. The pigs were not cheap for Haitians, who had to pay $50 or more for the offspring - an enormous sum in Haiti. On the other hand, the sale generated millions in revenue for US pig farmers.
Unlike the Creole pigs, the US breeds required expensive feed which Haitian farmers could ill afford. The new pigs required housing with cement floors—even as most peasants lived in homes with dirt floors. Many pigs fell sick in the new climate, and few Haitian peasants could pay for their expensive medical treatment. Within a short time, most of the US pigs had died.
A new Creole pig
After the eradication, Haitian and French agronomists worked to breed a new variety of pig with most of the same beneficial qualities of the Haitian Creole pig.
Grassroots is providing major financial support to Creole pig repopulation efforts now being carried out under the leadership of Haitian partners. A Pig Party contributes to that effort.
With the money raised, the new Creole pigs are purchased and bred. Communities share in the raising of the first few pigs, and the piglets are either sold for income or given to poor families in the community. A veterinary component of the program monitors the health of the pigs at a low cost.
But participating families get much more out of the program than just pigs. They receive training in leadership and learn to organize against the root causes of their poverty.
The program thus acts as a tool to strengthen local capacities to solve local problems and unites peasants around a common struggle. This important component of the program puts it a cut above other livestock programs that do little to build political power at the grassroots level.
The Pig Party
The pig project is a perfect example of how communities around the world are connected — from pig farmers in Iowa to farmers in Haiti — and how we can help each other. Hold a pig party and see!
1. Get a copy of the video. The 25-minute documentary is available on DVD and VHS (for US-based or NTSC video systems) from Grassroots International. Please contact us at 617.524.1400 or email us.
3. Invite your friends and party!
|Pig Party Guide||253.48 KB|
|Pig Party - Accompanying activities, recipes and forms||213.1 KB|