The series of agreements signed in Hanoi in December 2012, between the Government of Haiti and Vietnam, are proof that the South-South cooperation can lead to the fruitful exchange of resources, technology and knowledge. This cooperation provides the framework for a new form of long-term cooperation, which will enable Haiti to address food security, one of its main challenges.
The government of Haiti hopes that these agreements will enable Haiti to leapfrog development stages as it attempts to create a resilient agricultural production system. As 2013 rolled in, these agreements are translated into concrete positive benefits including lower prices for rice, Haiti's key staple food.
According to Haitian Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, "The principal goal of the agreements we have signed with Vietnam is to find innovative ways to insure food security for all of our citizens." The strategic plan of the Prime Minister, identifies ways to mitigate the impact of natural disasters on Haiti's food supply and to reduce its reliance on the import of agricultural products such as rice. The Haitian government's goal is to achieve self-sufficiency in the production of food.
The Vietnamese experience is particularly relevant to Haiti which imports most of the rice its citizens consume. In the past thirty years this small Southeast Asian country has gone from facing periodic food shortages in the aftermath of the war with the United State and being a net importer of rice, to becoming the world's second largest exporter of rice.
Improvements came by increasing land under cultivation, relying on technology to improve seeds and mountain rice production techniques, and by depending on smallholders rather than on large farming estates. In 2011 Vietnam produced 40 million tons of rice a year, most of it grown on 7.2 million hectares by some 10 million farming households each cultivating between one half to one hectare.
Vietnam will provide Haiti with technical cooperation to address the production of rice and other agricultural products. It will send experts to help introduce a progressive system of mountain rice production that includes the mechanization of agriculture, soil erosion prevention techniques, and the introduction of drought resistance rice varieties.
The agreements include a few immediate benefits for Haiti. Vietnam will supply Haiti with 300,000 tons of rice annually [at a preferential rate], which will address periodic food shortages. As a result, Haitians are welcoming 2013 with the price of rice 33% lower than last year. In addition, as part of the new relationship with the Vietnamese company, the state-owned mobile phone, has donated 400 tonnes of rice for the school feeding program.