FAO sounds alarm on Haiti farm effort

FAO sounds alarm on Haiti farm effort

12/02/2010

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf today expressed alarm at the lack of support for Haiti's immediate agricultural needs. Speaking at a high-level meeting here to coordinate the UN Rome-based Agencies' efforts on behalf of Haiti's medium and long-term recovery, Diouf said: "At a time when Haiti is facing a major food crisis we are alarmed at the lack of support to the agricultural component of the (United Nation's) Flash Appeal." The $575 million appeal called for $23 million for Haiti's immediate agricultural needs. "But only eight percent of this sum has so far been funded," Diouf said.

"The economic and social reconstruction of Haiti requires a revival of food production and massive investment in rural areas," he said

Immediate priority

Right now, he continued, "the immediate priority is support for  the farm season that begins in March and accounts for more than 60 percent of the country's food production". FAO has already started to distribute seeds, fertilizer and tools to enable Haitian farmers to plant for the next harvest. Planted now, horticultural produce would be ready in only three months  to provide beneficiaries and their communities with nutritious food for several months, the Director-General said. Looking further ahead, he noted that a multidisciplinary team of FAO's top experts was about to leave Rome for Haiti to help the Agriculture Ministry formulate a medium and long-term agricultural recovery programme.

Sustained support needed

"The Republic of Haiti will be requiring massive sustained international assistance for a long period in order to bring about sustainable growth that will dramatically reduce hunger and poverty," he declared. This would require the UN's Rome-based Agencies to better coordinate their efforts and to develop existing synergies. "In this spirit of enhanced collaboration, I propose the creation of a Tripartite Task-Force grouping FAO, WFP and IFAD to support the Government of Haiti in its efforts to revive its agricultural sector," he added.

Before the earthquake, the $49 million programme implemented by FAO in support of the Haitian Government covered a whole range of expertise which the organization offers in serving its member countries. Other participants at the High-Level Meeting included Haiti's Agriculture Minister Joanas Gue, WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran and IFAD President Kanayo Nwanze.