FAO calls for $23 million to step-up farming in Haiti
Aftershocks will be felt on agricultural sector, planting season few weeks away
16 January 2010, Rome - FAO has called for $23 million from international donors for agriculture in Haiti as part of the United Nations $562 million appeal for that country following the devastating earthquake.
The money is needed to support to food production in fields and backyards, not just in and around the area hit but in rural areas not directly affected but which will nevertheless feel the aftershocks of the capital’s collapse.
“We can expect huge displacements of people and damage to agricultural infrastructure so it is crucial that we do all we can to support local food production to sustain livelihoods” said Ari Tubo Ibrahim, the FAO Representative in Haiti.
Over the past twenty years Haiti has become dependent on food imports. Around 80 per cent of Haitians are involved in agriculture but they do not have the neccessary expertise and equipment and FAO estimates around half of Haiti's population is undernourished.
The World Food Progamme has appealed for funds to feed two million people following the earthquake.
For poor families, producing food locally also means freeing cash to meet other basic and urgent needs. The next planting season begins in March so it is vital that farmers and gardeners receive the support over the coming weeks to prevent further collapse of national food security.
Resources are also needed for the rehabilitation of small-scale agricultural infrastructure destroyed the the earthquake– such as irrigation canals, the agricultural processing industry, markets and other essential rural infrastructure.
With an untold number of internally displaced people, FAO is also planning to oversee the rolling out of urban and peri-urban agricultural projects/mobile gardens for earthquake victims with an emphasis on increasing local production of food for nutrition.
As well as boosting nutrition, especially of children, home gardens can have a huge impact on morale boosting for earthquake survivors, and if done correctly, will also mitigate further pressure on the country’s already desperately degraded environment.
The type of support needed by small Haitian producers will be farming tools, fertilisers, quality bean, corn, pigeon pea and vegetable seeds and livestock production including back yard chickens and pigs. Horticultural products that provide vital nutrition grow in three months if they are planted now.
During 2008, high food and fuel prices triggered violent demonstrations and political upheaval in Haiti.