Post-hurricane harvest boosts food security in Haiti

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Post-hurricane harvest boosts food security in Haiti

Rome, 10 March 2009 – Even before last year's food price spikes and hurricanes, Haiti was one of the world's poorest countries, with more than half of its rural population living on less than US$1 a day.

Haiti imports more than half the food it consumes, so it was particularly vulnerable to the 2008 price surges which created widespread hunger, triggering food riots and political unrest.

Four hurricanes struck the country between August and September 2008, taking lives, wiping out crops and isolating many people in battered, remote rural areas.

In 2008, IFAD supplemented three decades of financial support for long- and medium-term measures in Haiti with an urgent response: it provided US$10 million to jump-start agricultural production ahead of the new planting season. Over 240,000 smallholder farmers received a package of vegetable and cereal seeds, manioc, sweet potato and banana plants, distributed by IFAD's sister agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).  

Those seeds are now bearing fruit, with produce that can be sold in local markets, improving food security for many Haitian communities.  

Matthew Wyatt, IFAD Assistant President, is in Haiti this week (10-14 March) where he is meeting Prime Minister Michele Pierre-Louis, UN partners and donors.

Wyatt will also launch IFAD's latest intervention in Haiti, a project to develop small-scale irrigation. At a time when boosting local agricultural production is a government priority, the US$27 million project seeks to tap into one of the key factors for improved agricultural production in Haiti – irrigation.

The rehabilitation of small-scale irrigation schemes, and related support to increased production, will benefit 18,000 families in remote areas of two of Haiti's poorest departments. The project will focus on supporting better water management at the community and government levels. IFAD will be adding US$5.66 million to the project in 2009 to increase its reach and results.
While in the region, Wyatt will also travel to Nicaragua to meet government officials in the capital, Managua, and visit IFAD-supported projects in the vast, dry central region where most of the country's poor people live.

Natural resources there are limited, land has been overexploited and water is scarce. Yet four in five people depend on agriculture for their livelihood, causing severe strain on the fragile environment. Rural people are vulnerable to market variations and climatic conditions as they depend on just a few crops and their access to markets and value-chains must be enhanced.

IFAD projects help small farmers to develop alliances with participants in the value chains, improve production and management through better access to financial services, and improve the rural road network. 


NOTES TO EDITORS

  • Over the past 30 years of working with the poor rural people in Haiti, IFAD has financed seven projects with approved loans totalling US$84.3 million and has provided grant support to local organizations for a total of US$2.2 million.
  • According to FAO (Crop Prospects and Food Situation Feb 2009), despite good winter-season maize and bean harvests in Haiti and the gradual decline in prices of main staple foods, the Coordination Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire (CNSA) estimates that some 3.3 million people, about one-third of the total population, remain in a condition of food insecurity.  

IFAD was created 30 years ago to tackle rural poverty, a key consequence of the droughts and famines of the early 1970s. Since 1978, IFAD has invested more than US$10.6 billion in low-interest loans and grants that have helped approximately 350  million very poor rural women and men increase their incomes and provide for their families. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized United Nations agency. It is a global partnership of OECD, OPEC and other developing countries. Today, IFAD supports close to 250 programmes and projects in 87 developing countries and one territory.

Press release No.: IFAD/15/09