FAO sounds alarm on Haiti farm effort

Director-General warns about lack of support


With reference to the speech delivered today by the FAO Director-General at the High-Level Meeting on the Situation in Haiti in 2010, the simultaneous interpretation of the following paragraph was incorrect.  

Cependant, à l'heure où Haïti fait face à une crise alimentaire majeure, nous nous alarmons du manque de soutien à la composante agriculture de l'Appel éclair (Flash Appeal) de seulement 23 millions de dollars E.-U., qui pourtant n'est à ce jour financée qu'à hauteur de 8 pour cent. [...]

The English text reads as follows:

However, at a time when Haiti is facing a major food crisis, we are alarmed by the lack of support to the agricultural component of the Flash Appeal, valued at only 23 million US dollars but so far only 8 percent funded. [...]

The press release issued 12 February remains correct.

12 February 2010, Rome
- 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.

Photo: ©WFP/Rein Skullerud
FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf