Haiti: Emergency Actions in the Face of Food Crisis
Port-au-Prince, Mar 30 (acn) Solutions to a food safety crisis and giving a boost to agricultural production are imperatives for Haiti, intensified by the damages caused by the January 12 earthquake.
With a lack of means to buy seeds, farming implements and fertilizers, farmers are facing the pressure of the beginning of the spring sowing season, already at the end of March, to reach the level of 60% of national production according to their traditional results. Among the country’s regions, Haitian rural areas are, per se, the least favored by fortune. Hurricanes Fay, Gustav, Hanna and Ike caused serious floods and damages to the agricultural sector in August and September of 2008. According to data by the Economic Commission for Latin America and the Caribbean (ECLAC) 54.7 % of Haitians live in rural areas, a figure that increased after the earthquake. Over half a million people emigrated from Port-au-Prince and its surroundings to the countryside, and the families that gave them shelter have experienced a sharp decrease not only in their immediate sources for consumption but also in their food reserves, including stored seeds for cultivation or their cattle. The UN organization warned that crops were in danger due to lack of funds, and the FAO has asked international donors to support an investment plan of 700 million dollars for the island’s agriculture. To maintain local food production and agricultural income is among the priorities of governmental actions, in order to create jobs to increase the population’s purchasing power. President Rene Preval has said that a process of adjustment between agricultural production and national trade should take place, in order to prevent a competition with international food aid. A Haitian objective is for the country and its regions to integrate into “an open network” of economic bonds with foreign parties. As it has been expressed by its leaders, they want “to move support towards development needs, with the objective of laying the foundations for the long-term recovery of Haiti”, and with this purpose they keep the solution of the lack of food and the increase of agricultural production in the foreground.