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Country Briefs


Reference Date: 01-November-2016


  1. Hurricane Matthew severely impacted Haiti

  2. Uncertain prospects for 2016 cereal production

  3. Cereal imports forecast at record high level for 2016/17 marketing year

  4. Prices for cereals surge in Hurricane-affected areas in October, but remain stable in rest of the countries

  5. FAO’s Response

Hurricane Matthew severely impacted Haiti

On 4 October 2016, Hurricane Matthew, a Category 4 event with sustained winds of 230 km/h made landfall in southwestern Haiti. Grand’Anse, Sud and Nippes departments were directly in its path exposing 960 000 people, or 9 percent of Haiti’s population, to winds with the speed of between 90 km/h and 120 km/h and storm surges. The rest of the country was exposed to winds of at least 60 km/h and excessive precipitation, particularly in Sud-Est, Ouest, Artibonite and Nord Ouest departments. Early reports point to 473 confirmed deaths, with some unconfirmed reports putting this number at more than 1 000, and severe damage to infrastructure including bridges. An initial assessment by the Government of Haiti, FAO and other UN agencies points to severe losses to agriculture, particularly fruit trees and horticultural products in the most affected areas of Grand’Anse, Sud and Nippes and in Sud-Est Department. Severe crop losses in parts of Ouest Department have also been reported. The total value of crop losses has been estimated by the Government and FAO at USD 360 million and damages to productive infrastructure, which includes, but not limited to, irrigation and fishing equipment, and stocks, at USD 178 million. In total, 1.4 million people, or 13 percent of Haiti’s population, are in need of food assistance, of which 58 percent are in the most urgent need.

Uncertain prospects for 2016 cereal production

The departments in the southern part of Haiti saw rainfall levels between 200 mm and 400 mm in the first ten days of October, more than 80 percent above the Long Term Average (LTA) for this period. The Department of Artibonite, which accounts for at least one-quarter of the maize output and almost all rice production, was also affected by rainfall levels that were 60 to 80 percent above the LTA, or between 75 mm and 150 mm during the first days of October. The area affected represents, including Artibonite, close to 50 percent of the country’s 736 200 hectares of Usable Agricultural Land (UAL).

FAO has reduced, on a preliminary basis, its initial cereal output forecast for 2016 by 132 000 tonnes to 421 000 tonnes (milled rice equivalent). This forecast assumes that yields would improve in the areas that received above normal rainfall but were not severely affected and that farmers in non - affected departments will have access to inputs for the second and third agricultural seasons. At this level, the 2016 cereal production is still anticipated to recover from last year’s drought-reduced level but remain below the five-year average for a third consecutive year. Maize output, the most affected cereal crop, is now forecast at 259 000 tonnes, reflecting estimated crop losses averaging 55 percent in Grand’Anse, Sud, Nippes and Sud Est departments. This is a downward revision of 81 000 tonnes from FAO’s initial 2016 forecast. Rice production is now forecast to decline 5 percent from last year’s poor harvest, to 87 000 tonnes, as the intense rains brought by the Hurricane are reported to have triggered floods and damaged infrastructure in the main producing area of Artibonite, when harvests of summer/autumn crops would have been already underway. Losses of pulse, roots and tubers, and banana output have also been estimated to be high in the affected areas, between 70 to 90 percent, and totaling almost 70 000 tonnes.

Cereal imports forecast at record high level for 2016/17 marketing year

Cereal import requirements for the 2016/17 marketing year (July/June), which include both commercial imports and food aid, have been revised upwards as a result of the impact of the Hurricane to 680 000 tonnes, slightly above the previous record in 2010 when the country was severely impacted by an earthquake. This estimated cereal import requirement reflects the level of total supplies needed to maintain the national historical consumption levels of cereals at 92 kg per person per year, which takes into account population growth.

Prices for cereals surge in Hurricane-affected areas in October, but remain stable in rest of the country

Prices of main staples maize meal and beans (red and black) increased by 50 percent and 16 percent, respectively, in October in Les Cayes, a reference market in Sud Department, which was directly impacted by the Hurricane. Prices, however, remained 9 and 4 percent below their level from a year earlier for maize meal and beans.

In Port-au-Prince, the capital city, prices of imported rice, the country’s main staple food, increased by 8 percent in October and were some 12 percent above their levels from a year earlier. The price rises mainly reflect increased demand from southern departments after the Hurricane and a weak local currency.

Prices of main staples in the rest of the country remained relatively unchanged or declined in October, reflecting the entry of products from the main first season cereal harvest.

FAO’s Response

A Rapid Assessment conducted by the Ministry of Agriculture and Natural Resources, FAO and WFP on agricultural damages has recently concluded in the most affected departments in Haiti. Through internal resources, FAO is mobilizing to provide urgently-needed support to save and restore the livelihoods of the affected communities

A Post-Disaster Needs Assessment is ongoing under the coordination of the Ministry of Planning and External Cooperation of Haiti and with the technical support of FAO.

Under the Flash Appeal for Haiti, which was launched on 10 October 2016, the funding requirements for FAO is USD 9 million to assist 300 000 (60 000 households) of the most vulnerable and severely food insecure people who depend on agricultural activities (agriculture, livestock and fishery) for their livelihoods. With the magnitude of devastation in the rural areas FAO is anticipating that, in the context of the ongoing assessments, these figures may significantly increase.