Recovery and Agriculture in Haiti

  • Posted on: 11 September 2010
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
News: 

Regardless of the outcome of the upcoming elections, one hopes that promoting agriculture and rehabilitating the environment will be high priorities for the next administration.  Countries that import the majority of their food staples, as Haiti does, are vulnerable to price shocks when international food prices increase.  Rural development depends in large part upon making agriculture viable again.  This will require tackling environmental degradation, improving disaster preparedness, upgrading infrastructure and resolving long simmering land tenure issues. These challenges are difficult but not insurmountable.

 

Agriculture in Haiti is linked to both oppression and freedom.  Under French colonization, slave labor yielded both enormous profits and great suffering.  In fact, Haiti’s agricultural productivity made it more valuable than all thirteen American colonies combined.  During and after the struggle for independence, the vast majority of plantations were destroyed.  After the revolution, a great scattering ensued.  The majority of Haitians became subsistence farmers.  Agriculture provided the means to be self-sufficient.

 

For the audacity of not submitting to slavery, Haiti was cut off from international markets by the United States and France, the first but certainly not the last embargo it would endure.  However, no country can exist in isolation forever.  In order to attain recognition as an independent country, Haiti was forced to pay the French 150 million French francs (about $21 billion today) for “economic losses” incurred during the revolution.  Independent Haiti’s first major export became the wood from its forests, cut in order to pay its former colonizer for the privilege of formal recognition.  This debt has yet to be repayed by France, either with resources or solidarity.

 

Haiti was once the world’s largest exporter of coffee.  There are different theories as to what caused the decline, but most would agree that governmental mismanagement, deforestation, and decreased competitiveness in the face of a growing number of coffee producing countries were factors.  Today, coffee is a niche export but there is room for growth.  Never tried Haitian coffee?  Try ordering through Singing Rooster, which invests profits back into Haitian coffee growing communities.

 

Haiti once exported large amounts of cane sugar, but could not withstand increasing international competition and a shift to cheaper forms such as corn fructose.  Sugar is now used primarily for domestic consumption and rum.  In areas with ample water, cane has potential to be cultivated as a bio-fuel.  Of all potential biofuels available to Haiti, Jatropha continues to receive the most attention.  The government is interested in biofuels but as of yet, I have not seen a formal policy on them.

 

Production of mangos and cacao could also be expanded.  Coca Cola, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), and Technoserve launched an initiative to support 25,000 mango farmers in northern Haiti.  Click here for a video about Haitian mangos (in Kreyol).  Here is another video concerning Agropak, a mango packing facility in the north.  Excellent scotch bonnet peppers are grown in southern Haiti.  Vanilla, sisal, and vetiver for essential oils are also produced.  Take a look at this video (part 1 and part 2) to see how vetiver, a potentially lucrative crop, is harvested in Haiti.  The Haitian Ministry of Agriculture also has an online series of videos concerning other agricultural activities such as honey production and fisheries.

 

Today, Haiti’s agricultural sector employs over two thirds of the country’s workforce but accounts for only 25 percent of its GDP.  The decline in exports has been accompanied by an increase in importation of food staples.  Population pressure, erosion from deforestation, vulnerability to natural disasters, misguided government policies, lack of investment, and failure to innovate have taken a toll.  In addition, a lack of clarity and transparency over who (rightfully) owns property continues to cause tension and occasionally conflict.  Under the Napoleanic land system, property is divided amongst the male heirs of each family, which is less than ideal when the population is expanding but arable land is not.  Today, Haitians in the countryside grow their crops much as their ancestors did albeit under circumstances that become more challenging every year.

 

American engagement has at times undermined Haitian agriculture.  Under the Clinton Administration, Haiti was pressured into opening its doors wide open to foreign rice imports.  Many exporting countries, like the United States, heavily subsidize agriculture, resulting in artificially low prices that Haiti could not possibly compete with.  As Haiti became flooded with foreign rice, its own production capacity plummeted.  Haiti became dependent on food imports and at the mercy of fluctuations in international food prices.

 

UN Special Envoy Clinton has acknowledged the gravity of the mistake, noting “…it wasn't the right thing to do.  We should have helped them be self-sufficient in agriculture."  Clinton has been trying to make up for past mistakes by emphasizing the importance of agriculture.  During a visit to Leogane, he visited the Darbonne sugar mill, which is a public/private partnership between the Haitian government and BioTek, a biofuels distribution company.  The Darbonne plant is intended to become a source of green energy, capable of producing up to 20 megawatts of electricity, and a model for future facilities elsewhere in Haiti. T he CEO of BioTek, Regine Simon Barjon, is himself a Haitian American.

 

Along with Prime Minister Bellerive, Special Envoy Clinton co-chairs the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), which approves and coordinates major projects.  After a long wait, the IHRC approved $1.6 billion dollars worth of projects on August 6th.  This included $200 million in funding for agricultural development programs.  A brief description of agricultural objectives hopes to achieve with this funding is available here.

 

Livestock is another important element of agriculture.  In Haiti, animals are the closest thing to a bank account that many of the rural poor will ever have.  Here again, American engagement has at times been misguided.  During the 1980s, the United States supported an eradication campaign of Haiti’s Kreyol pig population due to concerns about swine flu.  Most, but not all, Kreyol pigs were slaughtered.  The American equivalent would be for someone to take your ATM card and wipe out your savings.  Kreyol pig stocks have rebounded thanks to breeding  of the survivors, complemented with imports from other Caribbean countries.

 

Milk, mostly in powdered form, is a major import to Haiti and an expensive one at that.  In a country without a tradition of organized dairy cooperatives, Let Agogo (Milk to Go) has been a notable success for creating jobs and improving access to milk. Take a look at this VETERIMED video (part 1 and part 2) to learn more about Let Agogo's efforts to expand throughout Haiti.  Here is another video (in Kreyol) about distribution of Let Agogo milk to various schools.

 

What is the status of agriculture and food security in Haiti seven months after the earthquake?  According to the USAID supported Famine Early Warning System (FEWS-NET), the 2010 spring rainy season began in April/May, about four to six weeks later than normal.  Rains were heavy but well-distributed.  Food crop output is expected to be good but slightly lower than last year.  The price of most food staples are back to pre-earthquake levels with the exception of corn.  Rice has been planted in irrigated parts of the Artibonite, the rural areas outside of Les Cayes, and in parts of the northeast.  Most corn-producing areas are expecting a very good harvest.  There are good supplies of grain (corn, rice, millet), beans, roots and tubers and fruits, particularly mangos, from the North, the Artibonite, and the Central Plateau.  FEWS-NET reports this is one of the factors resulting in a downward movement of prices.  In addition, FAO and WFP report that in Port au Prince, the prices of imported rice at the beginning of August were 25 percent lower than in February 2010.

 

Looking ahead through December, FEWS-NET notes that food security conditions in most departments are improving.  Regional markets are well-stocked with crops and food prices should continue trending downwards due to the spring harvest and reasonable market prices for grain.  Farm workers in rural areas with good crop production potential, such as the Les Cayes plain, the Artibonite Valley, and the Northern Plains will benefit from harvesting and planting activities in these areas in October/December.  Unfortunately, the harvest is likely to be poor in the isolated and drought prone northwest.

 

Cash for work programs continue to be the primary source of income for a large segment of the population in Port au Prince.  These programs include the clearing of rubble, the cleaning of ditches, and the collection of refuse.   Food security in Port au Prince should continue to be stable due to continued cash for work programs, improved functioning of the ports, normalizing of imports, and better food availability of local crops in markets.  However, there are two wildcard factors.  First, Port au Prince and many other parts of the country are vulnerable to damage from tropical storms.  These storms can take a significant toll on agricultural livelihoods.  During the 2008 hurricane season, Haiti lost more than 10% of its crops and damages to the already rough road network limited ability to move agricultural products to regional markets.  This resulted in isolation and documented increases in malnutrition for some mountainous, isolated areas such as Baie d’Orange.  Baie received a lot of media coverage at but it was by no means the only community struggling with increasing food insecurity.  Earlier this year, the FAO finalized its contingency plan for the hurricane season in coordination with the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development (MARNDR).  As part of this plan, seed stock has been prepositioned in chronically vulnerable areas, and distribution plans are in place.  The second factor is instability that may come with the upcoming elections.  With Wyclef out of the picture, run-offs are practically guaranteed.  Conflict would set back cash for work programs, impede the private sector, and affect access to markets.

 

While there are signs of improvement, it is important to keep in mind that WFP estimates more than 2.4 million Haitians to be food-insecure.  It would not take much to cause a major setback.  For more information on food security in Haiti, take a look at the Haiti Food Security Emergency Tool which aggregates data from a variety of sources and presents it in an interactive map form.  Subjects covered include useable roads, crop calendars, land use, livelihood zones and damage information.

 

What is the future of agriculture in Haiti?  Progress will depend in part upon strengthening MARNDR, which is responsible for setting plans, creating strategies, and developing partnerships for the promotion of agriculture.  MARNDR may lack capacity but it has many partners who do not.  Given the extent of the damage caused by the earthquake, the United Nations called for the use of the Cluster Approach which is being used in numerous disaster and conflict affected countries throughout the world.   One of the clusters, under MARNDR and FAO leadership, is focused on agriculture.  Up to 82 NGOs and UN agencies participated in the agriculture cluster in the aftermath of the earthquake.  While by no means the most glamorous sector, the majority of Haitians earn their livings from agriculture, making it central to recovery efforts.

 

Starting with regional partnerships, the Dominican Republic has expressed a willingness to collaborate with Haiti in the areas of education and agriculture.  During a high level stakeholder meeting in Punta Cana on June 2nd, Haitian Prime Minister Jean-Max Bellerive, Haitian Minister of Agriculture Joanas Gué, and Dominican Minister of Agriculture Salvador Jiménez participated in a meeting during which the Haitian delegation presented its National Agricultural Investment Plan (NAIP) for agriculture.   The development of the NAIP was carried out with the support of the FAO, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB), the World Bank and the United States.  The United States, Brazil, Canada, France, Spain, FAO, Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA), IDB, World Bank, the International Fund for Agriculture and Development (IFAD), and representatives of the Haitian private sector and civil society all endorsed the plan.  The Haitian government committed to increasing support from its national budget for agriculture and food security.  This is key given that FAO estimates one dollar invested in agriculture will produce $40 to $60 worth of food.

 

The NAIP revolves around three objectives: (1) Developing rural infrastructure, including watersheds; (2) improving production and developing competitive value chains; and (3) strengthening agricultural services and institutions.  MARDNR and its partners have also expressed interest in: (1) repair of the quake-damaged Darbonne sugar refinery near Léogane; (2) reforestation; (3) rebuilding and reinforcing collapsed riverbanks and damaged irrigation channels; (4) rehabilitation of 600 kilometers of feeder roads so that crops can reach regional markets; (5) acquiring thousands of tons of cereal, pulses and vegetable seeds; (6) distributing tools and fertilizers; (7) re-launching a program to encourage planting of sweet potatos in all ten of Haiti’s departments; and (8) building storage facilities around the country to stock food and grain throughout the hurricane season.  The NAIP calls for $790 million and the Haitian government has committed to financing $14 million of it with support from the private sector.  The United States  committed $25.9 million to support the NAIP in 2010 and will provide additional support in 2011.

 

Complementing these actions, the World Bank administered Global Agriculture and Food Security Program has awarded Haiti $35 million to raise the productivity of smallholder farmers through improved access to agricultural inputs, technology, and supply chains.  Donors to the fund include the United States, Canada, Spain, South Korea and the Gates Foundation.  The World Bank states that the fund is designed to leverage the benefits of multilateral institutions and will provide a flexible source of medium and long-term financing for public and private projects that improve food security.

 

Haiti can learn from the experiences of Brazil, a regional leader that is already heavily involved in the country.  A recent article in the Economist covers the fundamental transformation of the Brazilian agricultural system, which despite its tropical climate and nutrient poor soils, has gone from being a net importer of food to a major grain exporter.  Granted that Brazil has many advantages that Haiti does not have such as spare land, ample water, and strong governmental capacity.  However, Haiti might take a page from Brazil's book by adopting a “systems approach” where environmental, livestock, and agricultural interventions reinforce each other.  This transformation would not have been possible without a willingness to innovate. Brazil developed novel methods for making dry regions fit for farming, cross bred grasses and animals suitable for its environment, and developed crops that would thrive in its climate.  This includes adopting and improving African grasses and Indian cattle.  Most soyabean production takes place in temperate climate, but Brazil turned it into a tropical crop that could grow well in acidic soils. Also of interest, Brazil has become the second larger user of genetically modified crops after the United States.  Whether or not MARNDR supports genetically modified crops, it will need to be creative in making land arable in dry parts of the country.

 

The Cubans can also be a good resource.  Agriculture is not just for the countryside.  Cuba has pioneered urban gardening in Havana and other cities.  Here is a video which covers Havana's urban gardens.  Cuba has also been helping Haiti to develop fisheries, a practice which has not really taken off in Haiti but which has much potential due to the need for cheap protein and the over-fishing of coastal areas.

 

For too long, food assistance provided by the United States has been more about charity than solidarity – providing our agricultural surplus without helping farmers to improve their own agricultural productivity.  Recognizing a need to help partner countries feed themselves, the Obama administration has created the Global Health and Food Security Initiative (GHSFI).  GHSFI, a joint venture between the State Department and USAID, in coordination with other U.S. agencies and international donors, to refocus USG investments in nutrition, agriculture, and food security.  Haiti has been selected as a focus country, meaning that the United States is providing increased levels of funding and technical assistance.

 

Also of interest, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has provided $47.5 million to the WFP and Mercy Corps to promote food security.  Through Mercy Corps, up to 100,000 households will receive food vouchers worth $40 each.  Each voucher is enough to purchase 44 pounds (20 kilograms) of rice, 88 pounds (40 kilograms) of red beans and one gallon (3.8 litres) of cooking oil.  The vouchers will be honored by over 135 vendors in the Central Plateau and the Artibonite, which will stimulate local markets. The WFP component will allow it to expand cash for work programming to 140,000 participants by the end of the year.  Workers will be paid with a mix of food and cash to clean debris, repair irrigation canals, and build drainage.  The WFP has already been experimenting with locally purchase corn and other crops to support feeding programs while bolstering the rural economy.

 

A study after this year's earthquake found that much of the emergency seed aid provided was not actually targeted to emergency needs.  The report concludes that seed aid, when poorly-designed, could actually harm farmers or depress local markets, hampering recovery from emergencies.  The study identified access to new crop varieties as being of greater importance.  The study was funded by USAID and carried out by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT), Catholic Relief Services (CRS), FAO, and MARNDR.

 

As far as international organizations go, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has encouraged Dominican/Haitian collaboration by providing a series of loans and grants, totaling $28 million, to create agricultural jobs in the border region, with an emphasis on coffee and bananas.  IFAD is currently reviewing its five year strategy and intends to identify opportunities to improve access to credit, markets, tools and training in Haiti.  IFAD had previously invested over 5 million to build irrigation systems in Northern Haiti.  In Haitian communities where irrigation exists, one notices a remarkable difference in the quality of crops.

 

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is working with MARNDR, other UN agencies, and NGOs to address environmental degradation which will complement efforts to promote agriculture by controlling erosion, increasing farmland productivity, and developing clean energy alternatives.  Sadly, Haiti remains a country where most depend upon wood charcoal for their cooking needs.  UNEP is helping to establish an Improved Stoves Network to promote the use of more fuel efficient stoves, but over the long run, Haiti needs clean energy sources that are accesible and affordable.

 

There are also some very good NGOs promoting agriculture in Haiti.  The Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (ORE), based outside of Les Cayes, promotes access to improved seeds, high value fruit crops, vegetables, and seldom planted but very useful plants such as bamboo.  In Haiti, farming is difficult under the best of circumstances but especially hard when sick.  For that reason, ORE is also involved in establishing drinking water systems.

 

Floresta is a faith based environmental organization that has been active in Haiti since 1997.  Floresta provides training on innovative agricultural techniques, reforestation, creates micro-credit programs so that farmers have access to capital, and marketing assistance for agricultural products.  Floresta primarily works in southern Haiti but increaasingly along the Dominican border as well.

 

The Lambi Fund helps create and finance Farmer Credit Funds in the Artibonite, South, West, and Northwest so that peasant groups can plant improved crops.  These groups can take on innovations (and risk) together that they might not be willing to undertake individually.  In addition, the Lambi Fund supports reforestation efforts, clean water projects, pig and goat breeding programs, as well as creation of grain and sugar cane mills.  Lambi Fund takes great pains to ensure women are included and empowered in the programming it supports.

 

Oxfam is another NGO active in the agriculture sector.   Oxfam provides tools, seeds, and fertilizers to vulnerable farmers as well as agricultural training on crop production and livestock management, often in collaboration with other NGOs like IICA and VETERIMED.  Oxfam also clears and rehabilitates irrigation systems.

 

The decline of the Haitian agricultural system has been accompanied by growing food insecurity, malnutrition, urbanization, and political instability.  It has played a major role in Port au Prince becoming an over populated and, as we saw after the earthquake, vulnerable city.  With improved governmental capacity and accountability, a strong network of partnerships with regional, international and NGO partners, and a coordinated effort to rehabilitate the environment, progress is possible.  A stronger agricultural system means a better Haiti. Please feel free to post your thoughts in the comments section.

 

Thanks,

Bryan

 

Comments

By Catriona Davies
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While the eyes of the world have followed the effect of Haiti's devastating earthquake on Port-au-Prince, an ecological disaster has been quietly unfolding elsewhere in the country. The mountainous forests of Haiti's Massif de la Hotte region have more critically endangered species than anywhere else on earth, according to Alliance for Zero Extinction, a global initiative of 52 conservation organizations. The area has 42 mammals, birds, reptiles, plants and amphibians on the International Union for Conservation of Nature's (IUCN) Red List of Globally Threatened Species. More importantly, 13 species of frog on the verge of extinction live only here. The Alliance for Zero Extinction reports nowhere else on Earth has more than nine such species.
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However, only 3 percent of Haiti's original forests remain and they are disappearing at a rate of 10 percent every five years, according to a group of conservation groups including Birdlife International and the Zoological Society of London. The forests are being cut down by desperately poor communities who chop the trees for firewood and then use the land to grow crops, the conservationists said. The Massif de la Hotte region suffered further strain after January's earthquake when refugees from the capital Port-au-Prince doubled the size of the local population. "It's slash and burn subsistence agriculture that comes at the expense the forest," said David Wege, of Birdlife International. "People are just trying to eke out a living by cutting down trees for fuel and charcoal, and then using the land for agriculture. "A bag of charcoal can fetch $30, which is a significant economical driver to people earning about $1 a day. The consequences are landslides, mudslides, erosion and flooding. The people know the long term impact but they are just trying to survive."
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Birdlife International, the Zoological Society of London and Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust recently secured $450,000 from the UK government to work with Haitian NGOs, Societe Audubon Haiti and Fondation Macaya, helping local communities find alternative income without destroying the forest. Wege said: "Protecting the environment immediately comes down to helping local people with their livelihoods, because they are the same people who are impacting the environment. "We need to help people survive better with less impact on the environment, so our involvement has to start at a community level."
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Examples of the work in helping reduce the community's impact on the forest include piping fresh water from natural springs into villages, which saves people from having to cut down trees to reach the springs. The NGOs have also established tree nurseries, growing trees for reforestation and giving employment to local people. Other initiatives include establishing fast-growing wood for fuel around villages, setting up chicken farming cooperatives and reopening the area's only school, which closed down in 2000 because of lack of funding.
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Researchers are now starting to study the forest itself to discover where exactly the most endangered species are living, and which patches should be made priorities for reforestation. "We need to make sure species are not going extinct while are a reforesting somewhere else," said Wege. "The potential for extinctions there is huge. Because there are lots of little forest patches, any one could be the only place where a specific species lives, and if that goes, so does the species. "The area is exceptionally high in endemic species that are not found elsewhere: frogs, mammals, plants, reptiles and birds.
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"There are two endangered species of mammal that are found only on the island: a solenodon, which is like a giant shrew, and a hutia, like a long-legged guinea pig living in trees." Wege said that although January's earthquake did not directly impact the Massif de la Hotte region, it did have an immediate influx of people fleeing Port-au-Prince. "The communities doubled in population after the earthquake," said Wege. "Seeing as these communities are living below the poverty line the impact on local resources is huge. "Our concern was that the forest just didn't stand a chance with this sudden influx of people, but many are now returning to Port-au-Prince. They have discovered there's not much to do here and their chances of eking out a living are better in Port-au-Prince, where there is aid and support."
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In addition, the region relies heavily on NGOs, and as those organizations lost staff and offices in the earthquake, the people of Massif de la Hotte have lost out further, Wege said. All the work is carried out by the Haitian NGOs, Societe Audubon Haiti and Fondation Macaya, while Wege and the other international partners provide technical support, fundraising and a global perspective. "We will continue to support the area until the Haitian NGOs are capable of doing it on their own," said Wege. "However, they already had a difficult financial situation there and the earthquake has set them back, so we are there for the long term. "The UK government was a bit concerned about funding a research project in Haiti after the earthquake, when there was so much human suffering. But this project looks long-term at working with the community to improve their livelihoods while ensuring their biodiversity heritage is not lost in the process."

One thing you did not mention in this article is how the US exports of rice and other staples to Haiti, as well as our unwillingness to import Haitian products into the US, stymies their ability to trade. If our rice, due to the American taxpayer's ability to subsidize our farmers, stays far cheaper than Haitian farmers' ability to grow rice and our ability to subsidize and dump our left over chicken pieces into their food chain means foriegn chicken is cheaper to buy than it is to raise a chicken in Haiti, then all the relief efforts in the world won't create a stable financial future for any Haitian farmer.
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You also fail to mention that much of the apparel that is sold in Haiti is imported through charities and Goodwill clothing centers. Clothing from the United States is so abundant on the streets down there and so cheap, that local clothing entrepreneurs have dried up. There is no reason to grow cotton or raise sheep if you know the natural fibers have no way of getting to a foreign market, much less to the local one. One of the first things that needs to happen for agriculture to return to its pre-USA destruction period, is to get rid of subsidizing American farmers and/or allow Haiti to return to putting tarriffs on imported products, a practice that stopped because of pressure from the World Bank and IDB, which the USA controls.
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These 2 institutions refused to lend Haiti money unless they agreed to lower their tarriffs to next to nothing on American goods. Also, if the US would lift its travel warning to Haiti, instead of continuing to demonize it, then Haiti would enjoy a revitalization of its tourism industry. Haiti's murder rate is the lowest in the Americas. It has less than 1/5th the rate of the neighboring Dominican Republic. In Haiti, 5 people per 100,000 persons is murdered in a year. By comparison, 39 people per 100,000 persons is murdered in Baltimore, MD, USA. Is there a travel warning to Baltimore, Washington, DC, Detroit and many other American cities? Many of those American cities, with populations under 1 million, have far more murders than does Port au Prince, a city of over 2 million people. Are their official travel restrictions, warnings and demonizations of the United States? NO!
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In Jamaica, 25 people per 100,0000 are killed each year. So, why do we support tourism there and not in Haiti? Tourism would create a huge market for locally grown fruits, coffee, sugar, vegetables, etc. in Haiti, if we would support her people in generating a tourist industry. I know that the USAID and others have sponsored a plan for tourism in Haiti. But, that plan minimizes and marginalizes the local populations in favor of Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines, who pays its Haitian employees at most $4 per day. It also only pays the government of Haiti $6 per visitor, the lowest price it pays to any of its ports of call. It has also barred Haitians from using its beach, which used to be accessible to them for a small fee. And, it dumps its trash all over the backside of its compound and in the woods in the mountains above the beach.
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This is a time wherein the world, led by someone, and that could be the United States, needs to give up its laissez-faire approach to business and development. Haiti presents an opening for all of us to do the right thing and create business to business partnerships at the lowest and smallest levels, rather than let USAID and the NGOs pay themselves and foreign contractors handsomely, while leaving behind little opportunity in the way of sustainable marketability of products. Small and medium-sized business people, from around the world, could partner with similar businesses in Haiti and grow, from the bottom up, the means of production, service and marketability, in Haiti. This, as a matter of fact, if happening globally, would bring allot more friendship and comraderie into the world.

By Edvige Jean-Francois
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He's been named by Time magazine as one of the 100 Most Influential People In the World Every week CNN's African Voices highlights Africa's most engaging personalities, exploring the lives and passions of people who rarely open themselves up to the camera. This week we profile Ivorian fish farm developer Valentin Abe, whose work in Haiti has prompted Time Magazine to name him as one of the world's 100 most influential people.
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Watch the show on Saturdays 1130 and 1830 GMT, Sundays 1700 GMT and Monday 1130 and 1630 GMT. Croix-des-Bouquets, Haiti (CNN) -- Far from his native Ivory Coast, fish farm developer Valentin Abe has been improving the lives of thousands of poor villagers in Haiti by teaching them how to become commercial fish producers. His fish-farming project has become a source of food and income for several communities in the small Caribbean nation that has been plagued by poverty, malnutrition and, more recently, the full force of a devastating 7.0 tremor. "Give someone a fish, and you feed him for a day. Teach him how to fish, and you feed him for life," Abe told CNN from his two-and-a-half-acre fish farm in Croix-des-Bouquets, where he raises tilapia -- a high-protein, warm water fish-- before distributing them to lakeside villagers.
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"And I kind of took it and said, well, why not apply it? Go in the field and apply it and teach as many people as I can how to fish and I will feed them for life. And that's how everything started." The agriculture expert, who left Ivory Coast in 1989 to study in the U.S. on a Fulbright scholarship, first set foot in Haiti in 1997. He was soon convinced that if he could teach the country's poor fishermen to supplement regular fishing with fish farming, their lives would be transformed. But his attempts to generate interest in fish farming fell on deaf ears. "I was just walking around and wondering why that aquaculture or fish culture is not developed in this country? There is so much potential," he said. "I drew the plan, talked to as many people as I could but nobody was really interested. But you travel around Haiti and you see there are lakes sitting there. And I said well, I know what I'm going to do." Despite failing to secure private loans or get backing from the Haitian government, Abe decided to forge ahead with his vision and fund the project out of his own pocket.
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In 2006, he managed to scrape together $15,000, which he used to buy his first set of tanks and initial batch of fish hatchlings. Four years later, his hatchery has grown to contain 36 aluminum tanks.It is there where breeding fish purchased from Egypt and Israel are grown until they reach what's called the fingerling size -- at two months old. Then the baby tilapia are distributed to the lakeside villagers along with their feed and a portable metallic cage. Four months later the fish are fully-grown and ready to harvest.
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"Everywhere that we have our project, there's people that are poor. And they don't want to stay poor. They want to be allowed to improve their life,' Abe says. The work Abe's been doing quietly for years in his adopted country paid off in a big way last October. Former U.S. president Bill Clinton, a UN envoy in Haiti, visited Abe's hatchery and was so impressed that he nominated him as one of Time Magazine's 100 Most Influential People. "Time Magazine was a big surprise," Abe says. "They called me and said, 'You've been nominated for the Time 100, do you accept the nomination?' At first, I thought it was a joke, I thought somebody was playing a bad joke on me."
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Far from a joke, the award and Clinton's support have started to pay dividends. His project has now received extra funding that will go a long way to help the farming families and, by extension, many Haitians displaced in the aftermath of January's quake. "Those fish are sold in the market, so you have the merchants that will buy fish. Then you have the people that will come buy the fish for the consumption, so improve nutrition, that's added benefit to different communities. And then the money is running around," he says. When asked why not bring his work and expertise back to his homeland, Abe says: "Yes, I'm from Africa. I'm from the Ivory Coast but now I'm a son of Haiti. Why do it in Haiti? Well, because Haiti, at that time, was the most suitable place to do it. "Now, this doesn't mean that I cannot help Africa. After I set up the program here in Haiti, I might go back to Africa, everywhere they need me. That's who I am and that's what I want to do -- everywhere I'm needed is home."
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Teo Kermeliotis contributed to this report.

I have started a poultry operation in Cap Haitian that contract farms with small backyard poultry farmers in the North Dept and millet farmers (for feed) in the Northwest Dept. Haitian demand for chicken and egg is far greater than domestic supplies which forces Haitians to buy surplus dark meat shipped from the U.S. in refrigerated containers or live birds and eggs several hours away in the DR. Most poultry farmers in Haiti have small flocks (100 birds and less). Lack of vaccination, clean water, feed, electricity and technical knowledge results in entire flocks dying before they gain market weight or lay eggs.
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By contract farming, I am giving the many backyard poultry farmers in Haiti much needed cash flow the day their chicks hatch. I am also producing a steady market for farmers in the drought prone areas of the Northwest who grow millet (tolerates drought) but can not find buyers because of the ubiquitous "Miami Rice." I will sell native Haitian chicken and eggs at a price lower than current prices by producing the product locally and eliminating the marked up costs that occurs when there are several links between producers and consumers as currently exists.
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The middle men/women buyers (called “Madame Sari) who travel to the DR to buy chicken and egg to resell in the North Department will also benefit. Chicken and eggs produced product will eliminate traveling and opportunity costs that they incur and often pass on to end use buyers which, in turn, decreases the amount of product sold. Locally harvested millet feed grown without pesticide and feed to free range birds is also a healthy alternative to the poultry Haitians are eating now.
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Anyone interested in discussing this endeavor can reach me at mmathieu77@gmail.com

Partners in Health
9/17/2010
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Even before January 12, Haiti ranked as one of three countries in the world with the worst daily caloric deficits per inhabitant. One out of every four children in Haiti suffers from stunting, a sign of chronic hunger and malnutrition. Hunger also negatively affects the health and adherence to medications of many of our HIV and TB patients. Zanmi Agrikol (ZA)—“Partners In Agriculture” in Haitian Creole—was established in 2007 to help increase agricultural production, and play a leading role in PIH/ZL’s effort to stem the tide of hunger and malnutrition in Haiti.
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The earthquake left hundreds of thousands of people without access to food. To meet immediate food needs, PIH/ZL established malnutrition clinics in each of the four settlements of internally displaced people where we are working, and distributed over 175,000 tons of food through the end of March. An exodus of people directly impacted by the earthquake to rural areas where PIH/ZL works has increased the pressure on already fragile food production systems. Shortly after the earthquake, we successfully planted and harvested a fast-growing variety of corn to alleviate hunger among displaced families in the Central Plateau and Artibonite regions, and provided food assistance to vulnerable patients and their families, many of whom were struggling to provide food and shelter for relatives who had fled Port-au-Prince.
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To transition from our emphasis on immediate food assistance to programs supporting sustained food security, ZA has already begun to dramatically scale up. For example, since January, PIH/ZL identified 1,000 extremely vulnerable families who are now being trained in innovative and effective agricultural techniques by ZA. To supplement our farm in Corporant, we have also purchased a hilly plot of land in Lashto in the Central Plateau, which will serve as a demonstration farm for families cultivating crops in similar mountainous areas. ZA will employ 100 new farmers in order to increase production of our ready-to-use therapeutic food, Nourimanba, which will be given to 7,500 children suffering from acute malnutrition over the next year.
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This expansion of ZA by 20 to 25 percent will contribute significantly to improving the long-term food security and health of our patients and their families. The fight against malnutrition is at the heart of the Zanmi Agrikol (Haitian Creole for “Partners In Agriculture“) project. Of the 1 billion undernourished people in the world, 143 million are children under five years old (UNICEF), Haiti’s Central Plateau, where ZA works, has the highest rates of malnutrition in the country. Not only does malnutrition make it harder for a child to fight off diseases like diarrhea, pneumonia and measles, it makes it five to eight times more likely that a child will die from that disease than a well-nourished child. Further, malnutrition stunts physical and intellectual development in young children, causing irreversible harm that may follow them through life.
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To combat the malnutrition epidemic, Zanmi Lasante (ZL) and Zanmi Agrikol (ZA) are working together to identify, treat and monitor malnourished children. Due to the decreased demands on time and resources of families, ZA utilizes a model of care centered on home-based treatment of malnutrition, which has been proven effective in resource poor settings. Community health workers are able to identify and refer malnourished children to our clinics, where they are entered into our nutrition program. Our clinical team and trained nutrition staff provide the appropriate care and monitoring of growth. Further, ZA addresses the root causes of malnutrition by enhancing the productive capacity of household farms and combating the pervasive environmental degradation that has negatively impacted the growth potential of the soil in Haiti.
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Zanmi Agrikol was founded in 2002 as a partnership between ZL and Christ Church in Greenville, South Carolina. In the early days of operation, Haiti Horticulture, as it was then known, focused on growing vegetables in a hillside garden in Cange, with the goal of combating acute food insecurity as well as transferring knowledge about farming practices. In 2004, the project expanded its mandate to include production of fruits and grains in addition to vegetables in order to meet as much of the food needs of our clinics and hospitals. At that time, the project leased 40 acres of then-barren land in an area outside of Cange called Corporant. The farm was not only able to provide food to our patients, but also provided jobs for local agronomists and laborers, who planted fourteen thousand banana trees in the first year on the farm.
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In the hopes of furthering the ability of local farmers to implement the best farming practices, in 2006 ZA opened a small experimental farm adjacent to the hospital in Boucan Carré. ZL clinicians were seeing the highest rates of malnutrition in the Central Plateau at this site, so the ZA team partnered with a peasant organization, SOPABO, which was well connected with local farmers. The SOPABO farm is focused on trying different varieties of seeds, and soil management practices to see what maximizes harvests. This way, farmers can not only see which practices increase yield without absorbing the risk on their own plots, but they also learn how to implement these best practices. In addition, the ZA team at SOPABA has built an extensive tree nursery, with a focus on fruit trees like avocados and mangoes as well as varieties that encourage soil conservation. The team then gives these saplings to local farmers.
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The identification, treatment and follow up care of moderate and severe malnutrition by Zanmi Lasante is managed at the community level, with supplemental clinical care available as necessary. The experience of colleagues, particularly Médecins Sans Frontières and Valid International, in the use of community-based ready-to-use therapeutic food for the treatment of acute malnutrition offered an approach that had been proven clinically effective and has since been adopted as the standard WHO protocol.
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With help from a local NGO, Meds and Foods for Kids, in 2006 ZL began treating severely malnourished children with Nourimanba, a ready-to-use therapeutic food (RUTF) made from peanut butter, milk powder, vegetable oil, sugar and a specially formulated vitamin mix. This model of treatment for malnutrition was adopted due to the fact that it is an outpatient treatment. Nourimanba is “ready to use,“ meaning that no cooking is required, which allows parents to feed it to their children at home easily, thereby eliminating or reducing the amount of time children need to spend in the hospital. Further, because of its peanut butter base, Nourimanba has low water content, making it resistant to bacterial growth, which allows it to be stored safely for months. For children who are suffering from moderate malnutrition, doctors at ZL clinics prescribe Nourimil, which is a milled legume/grain mixture--either rice and beans or corn and beans--meant to be prepared in the home. Nourimil is a supplemental therapeutic food, which provides an essential source of protein to malnourished children.
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On this regimen, malnourished children can recover in 6-8 weeks, with most of the treatment occurring at home. The incidence of malnutrition in Haiti is overwhelming; ZL adopted the current protocol in order to reduce the number of hospitalizations, the duration of hospitalization, and to decrease the mortality and morbidity caused by malnutrition. This strategy reduces the stress on the health center, and, more importantly in places of poverty, it reduces the financial burden on the family. Although used in other countries in Africa and Asia, ZL was one of the first organizations in Haiti to begin treating severely malnourished patients with RUTF.
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Upon adoption of this protocol ZA chose, as a matter of justice, to source the ready-to-use-therapeutic food locally. Most of the ingredients for both Nourimanba and Nourimil were already being produced in the area that ZA works, and ZA and ZL believe that financing local production helps increase agricultural production and economic growth in the region. The farm operated by Zanmi Agrikol therefore altered its mandate, and replaced fruit and vegetable plots with corn, rice, and beans. Currently, the farm produces most of the beans, rice and corn needed for Nourimil. In order to further support local agricultural initiatives already in place, we source all of the peanuts for Nourimanba from local producers. ZA operates the facility where the two products are milled and produced. In 2008, ZA supported the production of 34,168 kg of Nourimanba and 166,490 lbs of Nourimil by local farmers. Quality assurance measures are in place to test batches of Nourimanba for aflotoxin, and WHO protocols for safety and sanitation of ready-to-use therapeutic food are adhered to.
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This local production not only provides a life-saving treatment for children with malnutrition, but also helps improve the socioeconomic situation of the community by providing jobs at the production center and at the farm, and also by providing a market for local farmers who grow and sell peanuts. As of June 2009, over 90 people were employed by ZA at the nutrition clinics, the production center, and the farms, and over 100 neighboring farmers are now growing peanuts for Nourimanba production.
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Zanmi Agrikol not only seeks to treat children with malnutrition, but also asks why they fall ill with malnutrition in the first place. The desperate socioeconomic situation of poor families causes chronic hunger and malnutrition. In talking with parents of children who are being treated for malnutrition at the clinics, ZA learned that many families had very little land to cultivate, not enough seeds, and few tools. ZA wants to help these families so that their children would not fall ill with malnutrition again next year.
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In 2006, ZA began enrolling the most desperately poor families it encountered through its malnutrition arm of the Family Assistance Program, to try to improve their economic and agricultural situations. ZA provides agriculture inputs such as tools, seeds, fruit trees and, where necessary, land to help farmers increase their output and offers families training on farming and on nutrition. Perhaps most importantly, ZA provides on-going support and accompaniment through ajan agrikol, agricultural extension agents. The ajan agrikol visit their families at least once every two weeks to provide encouragement and technical expertise on the science of farming. These ajan agrikol are trained by the professional agronomists who direct ZA activities at Corporant and Boucan Carré. As part of the program, ZA also distribute goats to these households. In order to reflect the astounding sense of empowerment found in Haitian communities, families pass a newborn goat along to another member of the program, which allows each recipient to also give to others.
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Due to how widespread the co-afflictions of poverty and malnutrition are in the communities in which ZA works, the program is beginning to recruit and train a new corps of extension agents. These ajan teren, or agents on the ground, are members of the local community who check in on families even more frequently to see how they are doing in everything from farming to nutrition to health. During a recent home visit to a family in ZA's Family Assistance Program, one of our visitors asked, “How often does someone from ZA visit you?“ The response was, “Oh, they are always here.“ For ZA, being there makes all the difference.
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Catastrophic deforestation is a tremendous environmental problem in Haiti, where forest now covers a mere 3.8 percent of Haiti’s total land area; this figure has continued to fall an average of 0.6 percent annually. This problem is aggravated by the fact that the use of wood and wood-based charcoal represents 71 percent of Haiti’s energy use. Zanmi Agrikol has a two-pronged approach to combating deforestation: create an alternative to wood charcoal so that families do not have to cut down trees for household cooking fuel and plant trees to replace those that are being harvested.
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Working with a team from MIT, ZA has found a way to produce to a wood charcoal alternative: charcoal made from bagasse, the waste product that remains after sugar is extracted from the cane. The organic matter is burned in a low oxygen environment and turns into charcoal powder, than it is mixed with a binding agent like manioc juice, which is readily available in Haiti, and finally is compressed into charcoal briquettes that burn very similarly to wood charcoal. As of the end of 2009, ZA has had 50 presses manufactured in Haiti and taught local families how to use the device to make charcoal briquettes from organic farm waste, which they can then use in their own household, as well as sell in market. In addition to providing an alternative to wood charcoal, this project generates income for the families.
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In order to encourage and support the reforestation of Haiti, ZA plants and gives away tens of thousands of saplings every year. We now have 6 tree nurseries, and not only does the program distribute fruit tree and soil conservation saplings to participants in the Family Assistance Program, but it also give trees to nearby villages and plant trees at sites that are important for water conservation. In addition to increasing farmers’ productivity in hopes of relieving their food instability, ZA aims to restore some environmental stability to the country’s hillsides.
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Project History
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2002 – Zanmi Lasante and its partners from Christ Church, in Greenville, South Carolina, launch an agriculture project called Haiti Horticulture. Hillside gardens in Cange are terraced and planted with vegetables.
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2004 – Haiti Horticulture is renamed Zanmi Agrikol (ZA) and leases a 40-acre farm in Corporant, down the road from Cange. ZA plants 14,000 banana trees and grows beans, corn, spinach and other vegetables.
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2006 – ZA opens an experimental farm in Boucan Carré. In November, ZA starts local production of Nourimanba and Nourimil for children hospitalized with severe malnutrition and enrolls 20 families in the Family Assistance Program. The farm at Corporant focuses on growing peanuts, corn and beans to be used in the production of Nourimil.
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2007 – ZA produces 49,016 pounds of Nourimanba and 87,200 pounds of Nourimil and treats 3,464 children suffering from malnutrition.
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2009 – ZA treats 5,000 malnourished children and supports 240 families in the Family Assistance Program.

Help Singing Rooster.org celebrate our 1st year of promoting and supporting Haitian coffee agriculture by using the Rooster's coffee at your next fundraiser. We buy green Haitian coffee beans by the tons at higher than fair trade prices; we pay a minimum of $2.25 a pound to farmer co-ops that we PERSONALLY meet. We work shoulder-to-shoulder with farmer coops and this year, we have assumed the role of coffee importer so we save money/can give more to Haiti. The Haiti Project.org raised over $15,000 with coffee. We sell our delicious coffee to nonprofits at wholesale prices. We sold 10,000 pounds of coffee last year and will triple it this year; that’s the plan. Our biggest customer? YOU. We sell our delicious coffee to nonprofits like yours at wholesale prices: $6 per bag / 24 bag minimum, $5 shipping. You, in turn, resell it at your church, office, fund raiser for as much as your customers are willing to pay – at least $9 a bag. We have beans and ground [we’re working on decaf]. $3 per bag ‘profit’ seems like a lot of work for what it is, but the HaitiProject.org raised over $15,000 selling the Rooster in just 18 months. Yes, that’s A LOT of coffee – but coffee is our favorite drink after water. Moreover, people come back for the Rooster’s coffee because it exceeds the typical blandness of fundraiser coffee. Haitian coffee is a luxury; it’s rich and smooth. We roast the beans locally in small batches to nurture the delicate flavors. In fact, I drink it everyday [okay, so there’s 30k pounds in the storage locker, but I’d like to think I’d drink it anyway]. Give us a try at your next fundraiser: send molly@singingrooster.org your order today! If you’re already a supporter: THANKS! You can help by sending this email to a friend who needs a good fundraising idea.
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Sincerely,
Molly Nicaise
Lead Rooster

Herald Ledger
By Scott Sloan
ssloan@herald-leader.com
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You can add coffee to the list of drinks produced by Alltech. The company on Friday debuted a new fair-trade coffee called Alltech Café Citadelle featuring beans grown in Haiti. "Every single cup you have is a cup of sustenance — sustenance for you and to sustain those families down there," Alltech President Pearse Lyons said. Alltech Cafe Citadelle is a fair trade coffee from Haiti, and the company intends to reinvest the revenue in the country to help build a sustainable lifestyle for the farmers involved. Mark Bennett, master coffee roaster at Lexington's Coffee Times, worked with the beans for Alltech Café Citadelle, which features coffee grown in Haiti. Alltech is partnering with farmers who are members of a cooperative.
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Haven Partnership's development sits atop a hill in Ouanaminthe, a city of 100,000 people in northern Haiti, on the border with the Dominican Republic. The concrete, pastel yellow units modestly house 150 families, but it's far sturdier shelter than the makeshift homes lining the highway below the development. The families have cover from storms, shade from the heat, gardens and clotheslines in their community, even a school down the hill.But at least one important thing is in short supply: jobs.
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About 10 days after a massive earthquake struck Haiti on Jan. 12, Pearse Lyons decided to go take a look. He flew to the Dominican Republic, then took a helicopter into Haiti. "You don't need to be there long to see the tragedy," he said. Like so many others, the founder and president of Alltech wanted to help. But he knew it would do little good in the long run to throw more aid money into one of the world's poorest, most-beleaguered countries. What Haiti needed, Lyons thought, was sustainable economic development, jobs for its people and hope for its children. And because he is a businessman, Lyons thought that helping Haiti could also be good for his company, which mostly sells natural animal nutrition supplements in 120 countries.
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As cars and motorbikes bounce down the road, the voices of more than two dozen elementary school students spill out the front door of the Centre Educatif l'Union des Coeurs. The language is French, but it is clearly understood by all the visitors as a warm embrace for people who are changing the students' lives. The children were handpicked by graduate students in the University of Kentucky's voice program to form a choir. The short-term goal, if visas can be worked out, is to bring the choir to Kentucky to perform in the Sept. 25 opening ceremonies of the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games. Alltech is an animal nutrition and feed supplement company headquartered in Lexington, Ky. The long-term goal is for the group to become like the African Children's Choir, touring the world and raising awareness of Haiti, the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere.
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Lyons visited Haiti, the poorest nation in the western hemisphere, in the wake of the devastating earthquake earlier this year and said he has since watched as groups have visited and "built churches and houses and schools, but they have not necessarily built lives. What we wanted to try to do was build lives." Alltech, the Nicholasville-based feed supplement company, has partnered with farmers that are part of RECOCARNO (the abbreviation for a French name that translates to Network of North Region Coffee Cooperatives). The 6,700 people affiliated with the cooperative grow the beans in the village of Dondon at the base of a mountain that holds a fortress on the list of UNESCO World Heritage sites. Alltech has adopted the name of the fortress, Citadelle Laferrière, for the name of the coffee.
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The beans are shipped to Lexington, where they are prepared and packaged by Lexington Coffee and Tea Co., which owns Coffee Times Coffee House on Regency Road. The coffee is available in 1-pound bags for $16. Terri Wood, owner of Coffee Times, said the beans are being roasted to a city-style roast as opposed to a darker French-style roast. She said Coffee Times will be occasionally serving the coffee inside the shop in addition to selling the beans, but suggested customers call ahead to check availability.
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Besides Coffee Times, the coffee beans can be bought by calling Alltech Customer Service at 1-888-636-3302 or at the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games information booth inside Fayette Mall. Alltech is the title sponsor of the Alltech FEI 2010 World Equestrian Games. Lyons said the company hopes to expand distribution of the coffee and is promoting it through Southland Christian Church, as the congregation has mission efforts in the same area of Haiti. Revenue from the coffee sales are going back to improve the infrastructure of the coffee cooperative, Lyons said. "If we make a dime out of it, I'll be surprised," he said. "The object is not to make money but to build sustainable lives and build a sustainable industry."

9/20/2010
AVMA
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More than 90 percent of meat from Haiti comes from backyard animal production. Despite substantial challenges to maintaining the animal health infrastructure in Haiti, particularly following the devastating earthquake Jan. 12, the country's head veterinarian remains hopeful. Dr. Max Millien, director of animal health with Haiti's Ministry of Agriculture, said assistance from foreign agencies will help the country improve its animal health infrastructure. He spoke at the Global Opportunities in One Health workshop Aug. 1 during the AVMA Annual Convention in Atlanta. In an interview with JAVMA News he said the country has long struggled with animal health issues, particularly disease outbreaks.
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In 1995, the number of dogs and cats vaccinated against rabies totaled only 30,000 among the hundreds of thousands of dogs and cats that populate the country. A renewed focus on preventing the transmission of rabies began in 2007, a year after 29 human deaths resulting from rabies were reported. The ministry developed the Animal Health Groups program, which has a presence in all 565 rural sections of the country. Each group constitutes about 25 animal producers and two or three veterinary agents who have taken a seven-week training course that teaches them about subjects such as animal pathology and epidemiology.
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"They received skills to do vaccinations and give help in epidemiological assistance. Through this we have realized a campaign of vaccination," Dr. Millien said. This year the agriculture ministry has been able to vaccinate 455,000 dogs and cats against rabies, yet success has been tempered by the fact that more than 40 people have contracted the disease. "With the destruction of houses, we have a lot of dogs and cats in the streets. That's why, after the earthquake, we've had more people bitten, and that's why people thought there was an increase in rabies," Dr. Millien explained.
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An additional emerging risk to Haitian animal health is Teschen disease, which is caused by a virulent variant of porcine enterovirus serotype 1. It began spreading among pigs in February 2009 and has ravaged the country ever since. Some areas have seen 25 percent mortality rates and 40 percent morbidity rates. More volunteer work at the ARCH clinic.Haiti is in dire need of laboratories to produce a vaccine against Teschen disease; however, there is a lack of interest in producing such a vaccine because most countries don't have the disease, and laboratories wouldn't make much money from its manufacture, Dr. Millien said.
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What little animal health infrastructure existed before the beginning of this year was nearly shattered following the natural disaster. A public veterinary clinic, laboratory, quarantine posts, and a school for veterinary technicians no longer stand as a result of the earthquake. It also caused many veterinarians and veterinary technicians to leave the country and caused a shortage of veterinary drugs and equipment for those who remained. Dr. Ian Robinson, emergency relief director of the International Fund for Animal Welfare, said, in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the people suffered more because they were in the collapsed buildings rather than the animals, which were mostly outside. Hence, care of animals was low on the agenda. It also became immediately apparent that any one group wouldn't be able to do anything meaningful in those circumstances, Dr. Robinson told workshop attendees, so foreign aid workers agreed to form the Animal Relief Coalition for Haiti, which now comprises more than 20 organizations, including the IFAW, AVMA, and American Veterinary Medical Foundation. To date, the Foundation and its partners have contributed $50,000 to ARCH, with potential for more giving before the year's end.
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Dr. Max Millien, Haitian director of animal health, said every year his country's problems become more and more complicated.Dr. Millien considers the earthquake not as a setback but as an opportunity to improve the country's veterinary infrastructure. He also finds hope in the sort of collaboration happening between the Ministry of Agriculture and ARCH. "In the past, every institution came and did what it wanted. It was not very good," Dr. Millien said. "Every institution recognizes now that Haiti's Veterinary Services is the institution that has to take the leadership role and realizes (that) coordination is important." Dr. Millien and his staff already had strong views and ideas about the way the recovery could best be helped, Dr. Robinson explained, so ARCH and Haiti's Veterinary Services joined forces to produce a plan and help with recovery efforts at a cost of approximately $1 million. Together, they will be instituting use of mobile veterinary clinics, training Haitian veterinarians and veterinary health workers to address welfare problems, restoring appropriate vaccine storage conditions to allow for effective vaccination campaigns, conducting a dog population study to better inform coalition work, promoting local interest in animal welfare, and repairing laboratory infrastructure ruined during the earthquake.
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Still, Haiti has a long road ahead in terms of providing adequate animal health services. Five years ago, the Ministry of Agriculture had only six veterinarians for the entire country. To remedy the situation, the Haitian government approached the Cuban government to form an agreement whereby Haiti would send students to Cuba for veterinary training. Since then, about 69 students have been trained and about 60 are working for the agriculture ministry today, Dr. Millien noted.

Seafood today is following the ancient course of land animal domestication that evolved from food foraging occurring some 10,000 years ago. During the past 50 years the global seafood market has transformed whereby today about half the fish and shellfish consumed are farmed. This commercial farming of ocean species is the fastest growing form of global food production amounting to $50 billion and recognized as the Blue Revolution. This can be equated to the earlier “Green Revolution” between 1965 and 1970 when wheat yields nearly doubled.
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Wild caught fish provide one of the few options for consuming animal protein for the denizens of developing countries. Add the vital role of fish for providing micronutrients and essential fatty acids, and the importance of sustaining fish stocks as a source of food and nutrition for the poor rivals other global epidemics. According to the “The Peanut Solution”, an article about Haitian malnutrition appearing in a recent issue of the New York Times Magazine, malnutrition causes more deaths than AIDS, tuberculosis and malaria combined.
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Haitian’s consume only 4 pounds of fish per year per person compared to other Caribbean countries where fish consumption is 7 times greater. About 80% of Haiti’s 38 million annual pounds of edible fish is imported. With a population of about 10 million, the math suggests a 240 million pound fish shortage. If imported at a mere $2 per pound, this would add another half a billion dollars to Haiti’s foreign exchange deficit.
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A 7-fold increase in the seafood diet for Haitians would be a godsend for 1/3 of Haiti’s children who are malnourished and there is a solution that would not increase the flight of foreign exchange. Many of Haiti’s native marine species could be commercially cultivated to provide a comprehensive menu for combating malnutrition. Cobia, the “tropical salmon” uniquely store fat and oils in their flesh and have one of the highest levels of healthy omega-3. Oysters, “soybeans of the sea” pack huge amounts of protein; are loaded with vitamins and omega-3 fatty acids; and, chocked with minerals: calcium, iodine, iron, potassium, copper, sodium, zinc, phosphorus, manganese and sulfur. Shrimp, an excellent source of protein, also provides selenium, vitamin B12, iron, phosphorus, niacin, and zinc. Seaweed possesses a balanced diet of nutrients and trace elements not even available in land plants.
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Surrounded by the sea, Haiti has a bountiful cornucopia of nutritious marine protein; ironically its people are oblivious to the potential for exploiting this resource in a sustainable way, which is attributable to a lack of awareness and education. Consider: Florida and Haiti both have coastlines of about 1,500 miles. There are about 30,000 marine biologists in Florida and only 3 in Haiti.
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Haiti has very limited fresh water resources of which 94% of withdrawn water is used for agriculture irrigation. With 1,100 miles of coastline on the Caribbean Sea, it has untapped potential for exploiting this vast marine resource and none of Haiti’s precious and finite freshwater resources would be required for farming fish from the sea. While Haiti has long engaged in commercial fishing, intense artisanal fishing pressure from hand lines, traps and nets are reducing fish stocks rapidly. A solution is the development of a sustainable mariculture industry, which would relieve strain on its marine and agriculture water resources while also increasing employment, income generation, women empowerment, exports, and foreign exchange.
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Phil Cruver
www.kzoeducation.com
phil@kzoeducation.com

A massive influx of free foreign food to Haiti after January's earthquake helped feed many displaced people, but undercut Haitian agriculture and hurt farmers' incomes, Oxfam International said on Monday. The international community has put too much emphasis on donating food to the rebuilding nation instead of developing Haiti's agriculture-based economy, it said in a report. "Currently, U.S. rice subsidies and in-kind food aid undercut Haitian farmers at the same time as the U.S. government is investing in Haitian agricultural development," said Philippe Mathieu, Oxfam's director for Haiti.
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"The international community must abandon these conflicting trade and aid policies in order to support the growth of Haiti's fragile rural economy." The catastrophic Jan. 12 temblor, which killed as many as 300,000 people, devastated the economy of what was already the poorest state in the Americas and turned much of the capital, Port-au-Prince, into rubble. The U.S. Agency for International Development has a five-year, $126 million program to support the rural population outside Port-au-Prince, and in August introduced two grants to help Haitian families buy local food.
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But a ban on direct assistance to industries that compete with U.S. exports -- known as the Bumpers Amendment -- and extensive exports to Haiti of rice, sugar and poultry undermined an agricultural sector that was largely ignored by foreign donors and the Haitian government even before the quake, the report said. The aid community has also not agreed to provide resources to support a $772 million agriculture plan put forth by the Haitian government after the temblor, according to the report. A spokesman for USAID said the organization was balancing the short-term needs of Haitians with longer-term support for agriculture infrastructure development. "USAID is using multiple tools to provide life-saving food to Haitians in the short term, while simultaneously building and strengthening Haiti's agriculture sector in the long term," the spokesman said.
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Oxfam's report calls for full support of the agricultural redevelopment plan, including enhancements that focus on building up community organizations, improving schools and healthcare and providing other services in rural areas. "There are no schools, or poor schools, in rural areas, no jobs, very poor or no healthcare," Marc Cohen, the report's author, told Reuters. He said about 75,000 people leave rural areas and move to Port-au-Prince every year. "Unless you invest not only in agriculture but also in rural development, you won't have people stay in rural areas," Cohen said. The report also proposes making Haiti an exception to the Bumpers Amendment and extending duty- and quota-free access to U.S. markets to Haitian goods.
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(Reporting by Emily Stephenson and Simon Denyer; Editing by Todd Eastham)

Huffington Post
By Beverly Bell
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Rony Charles, a rice grower and member of the Agricultural Producer Cooperative of Verrettes, said, "Instead of foreigners sending us food, they should give us the chance to do our own agriculture so it can survive." Giving domestic agriculture the chance to survive would address four critical needs: Creating employment for the majority, estimated at 60% to 80% of the population;[1] Allowing rural people to stay on their land. This is both their right as well as a way to keep Port-au-Prince from becoming even more perilously overcrowded; Addressing an ongoing food crisis. Today, even with imports, more than 2.4 million people out of a population of 9 million are estimated to be food-insecure. Acute malnutrition among children under the age 5 is 9%, and chronic under-nutrition for that age group is 24%. Peasant groups are convinced that, with the necessary investment, Haiti could produce at least 80% of its food consumption needs; and promoting a post-earthquake redevelopment plan that serves the needs of the majority, unlike the one currently promoted by the U.S. and U.N. which is based on the growth of sweatshops.
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To attain these goals, Haitian groups of small farmers (or peasants, as they call themselves) are challenging a decades-long pattern of conflict and competition, a trend which the Duvalier dictators actively fostered in order to sustain their fierce control. Groups are uniting into coalitions and beginning to work together, thereby building political might to shore up domestic agriculture. They are advancing their agenda collectively through negotiations with the Ministry of Agriculture, national pressure, international policy advocacy, and creation of common cause with other farmer movements and allies elsewhere. These farmers, like their counterparts the world over, are focused principally on building food sovereignty. They are on the frontlines of a clash between two development models: food sovereignty and neoliberalism.[2]
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Food sovereignty is the right of a people to define their own food and agricultural systems, premised on growing domestically for domestic consumption. It is based on other social and economic rights, too: the right to food, the right of rural peoples to produce, and the right to land. Food sovereignty promotes small-scale agriculture, government management of food imports, protection of native seeds, and large-scale redistribution of land with protections of land tenure for small farmers. It calls for the democratic participation of the population in shaping trade policies and for development programs which protect domestic production, especially by small growers.
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The opposing model, neoliberalism, is the one governing farming in Haiti and much of the world. An ideology as well as a set of free-market policies and programs, neoliberalism opposes a significant role of government or community in planning, investing in, or intervening in markets in ways which could protect and promote national development. Neoliberalism gives primacy to corporate control over domestic production and the environment. Key players here include the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, World Trade Organization, governments of industrialized countries, large landholders, and corporations. The model is based on global trade rules which allow rich countries to make profits off of Haiti and other low-income countries in two ways. First is as a source of cheap, raw goods for the so-called First World, which are extracted or produced by intensive exploitation of labor, land, and other resources. Haiti used to fill this role, historically exporting hardwoods and more recently -- until the 1980s -- foodstuffs, when the agricultural sector no longer had the capacity to do so.
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Low-income countries' second role is as a market for corporate goods from high-income countries. The trade policies of wealthy nations and the conditions on loans by international financial institutions pressure low-income countries to lower import tariffs, though high-income countries' own production remains protected by subsidies. In Haiti, conditions on two loans from the IMF, in 1986 and 1995, forced the government to reduce tariffs on food imports to as low as 3% from former levels of up to 150%. This made it suddenly cheaper to buy food from U.S. agribusiness than from the farmer the next field over, thus effectively putting out of business the farmer in that next field. Until the early 1980s, Haiti was largely self-sufficient in food, but now domestic agriculture meets only 43% of Haitians' food consumption needs.[3] This has led to the further impoverishment of the small farmer sector; those who still try to survive through growing do so in grinding destitution. Another option has been to flee to the cities, and for more than three decades peasants have been arriving in droves for Port-au-Prince, where they have found jobs in the assembly sector or the informal sector if they were lucky, or have remained unemployed if they weren't. This led to another impact of so-called free trade policies: the dense population in Port-au-Prince of rural emigrants and others, virtually all of them living in shoddy housing on terrain often unsuitable for dwellings, contributed greatly to the high death toll (estimated at 250,000 to 300,000) from the January 12 earthquake.
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Attaining food sovereignty in Haiti would necessitate a governmental commitment to invest significantly in agriculture. Farmers need support for tools, seeds, credit, irrigation and water storage systems, and assistance from agronomists. Food sovereignty must involve land reform, since peasants currently don't have the land they need to grow. It would mean staunching the flow of dumped U.S. commodities (today mainly handed out in 'food for work' programs, usually in crony systems) which, more than ever since the earthquake, has meant that Haitian farmers either have to sell their food for a pittance or cannot sell it at all. Food sovereignty would require raising tariffs on food imports to protect national production. Food sovereignty would also involve turning around Haiti's ecological crisis, since its effects -- topsoil erosion, deforestation, destruction of watersheds, floods, and droughts -- all impede agricultural production. Some Haitian farmer-activists are promoting a set of programs to address this crisis, with their own programs of reforestation, integrated water management, and creation of non-charcoal energy sources. But the farmers say they cannot reverse the environmental decline on their own, and ask the government to commit to national programs and to enforce ecological protection laws that are already on the books.
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Food sovereignty in Haiti would require, furthermore, passing a law against genetically modified [GMO] seeds and limiting multinational corporate involvement in Haiti's seeds, which Haitian farmers call "the patrimony of humanity." The need has been underscored this year by new imports of seeds from Pioneer and Monsanto. Some of them, such as Monsanto's calypso tomato seeds, are treated with deadly poisons which the EPA banned for home use in the U.S. While Monsanto, for one, is donating its seeds this year, one suspects that that largesse will quickly end and that farmers will be forced to buy them in subsequent years. Meanwhile, agriculture becomes dependent on foreign corporations for the very foundation of agriculture. Strengthening the agricultural sector is viable because of the size, strength, and growing unity of the peasant movement, and because of the international attention and support of progressive allies. What is needed now is the political will of the Haitian government, the U.N., and foreign governments.
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Below is a listing of some of the coalitions, both Haitian and foreign, which are building the movement. Doudou Pierre of the National Network for Food Sovereignty and Security said, "All these networks basically have the same agendas. It's for food sovereignty and against neoliberal agricultural policies."
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Four Focused Eyes (Kat Zye Kontre) unites the four largest and strongest peasant organizations. The name comes from an expression pertaining to cheating in Haitian card games: "Four focused eyes, an end to lies," and refers to the long-term distrust between some of these organizations. They include the country's two national peasant groups -- Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen, or Heads Together Small Producers of Haiti, and the National Peasant Movement of the Papay Congress (MPNKP) -- plus the two largest regional organizations -- the Peasant Movement of Papay (MPP by its Creole acronym) and the Regional Coordination of the Organizations of the South-East (KROS). For the first time, these groups are overcoming old division [s] to work in unity. They are pushing the state for alternative, pro-peasant policies through mobilization, especially around land reform.
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National Network for Food Sovereignty and Security (RENHASSA by its Creole acronym) is a coalition of 54 organizations from different sectors and regions. Formed in 2006, RENHASSA's mission is to advocate for national policies which would allow Haiti's self-sufficiency in national food production, for policies against foreign food aid and dumping which undermine that self-sufficiency, and for land reform. See "So Everyone Can Eat, Produce It here: Food Sovereignty and Land Reform in Haiti (Part I)".
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National Coordinating Committee of Peasant Women (KONAFAP). "You can't speak of food sovereignty without women's participation," said one farmer in the rural North of Haiti. KONAFAP was formed two years ago by women from the 54 member organizations of the National Network for Food Sovereignty and Security (RENHASSA). Still in a building stage, most of its members currently hail from the Peasant Movement of Papay and the National Peasant Movement of the Papay Congress. KONAFAP promotes political fights against hunger and against neoliberal agricultural policies, and organizes for the strength and rights of peasant women. For more information, see "Thinking about Ourselves and Our Future: Rural Women Organize."
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Hand-in-Hand Foundation (FONDAMA by its Creole acronym) brings together approximately 400,000 members in eleven organizations that together cover most parts of the country. FONDAMA's mission is food sovereignty and environmental protection. FONDAMA is holding an ongoing series of post-earthquake meetings to construct and advocate for a national agricultural program.
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Vía Campesina (Peasants' Way) is the network of small farmers, peasant farmers, landless people, indigenous people, and rural women, with member organizations around the world. One of Vía's emphases is food sovereignty, which it advancews through coordinating and promoting international-level activities and through helping member countries like Haiti lead domestic fights. Three of Haiti's peasant organizations -- Tèt Kole, the National Peasant Movement of the Papay Congress, and the Peasant Movement of Papay -- are members, while the Regional Coordination of the Organizations of the South-East (KROS) is applying for membership. A Haitian representative has long had a seat on Vía's International Coordinating Committee.
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Silion Pierre, a national coordinator with Tèt Kole Ti Peyizan Ayisyen -- Heads Together Small Producers of Haiti -- said, "Our idea is to reinforce our strength and capacity to mobilize by bringing together all progressive forces, Haitian and foreign, to make Haiti into another nation where people can live with security and food." Other Worlds is very grateful to our friends who have donated their beautiful photographs from Haiti: Ben Depp as well as Roberto (Bear) Guerra, Julie Dermansky, and Salena Tramel.
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[1] The U.N. in 2006 estimated 60%, while peasant organizations commonly use the figure of 80%.
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[2] Posited by Via Campesina, as explained in "Food Sovereignty" flyer, 2002, discussed in Peter Rosset, Agrarian Reform and Food Sovereignty: Alternative Model for the Rural World, Center for the Study of Rural Change in Mexico, Feb. 2006, p. 7.
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[3] World Bank, 2008.
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About Beverly Bell: Beverly Bell has worked with Haitian social movements for over 30 years. She is also author of the book Walking on Fire: Haitian Women's Stories of Survival and Resistance. She coordinates Other Worlds, which promotes social and economic alternatives. She is also associate fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies.

10/7/2010
By Nadia Ibanez
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In a new report released earlier this week, international agency Oxfam called for a radical shift to prioritize agricultural investment in plans to rebuild Haiti after the devastating earthquake earlier this year. The agency also urged international donors to generously fund the Haitian government's $772 million agriculture plan and abandon trade policies, such as dumping highly subsidized rice and placing barriers on Haitian exports. Oxfam is an international confederation of 14 organizations working together in 99 countries and with partners and allies around the world to find lasting solutions to poverty and injustice.
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Philippe Mathieu, Oxfam Country Director in Haiti, said:"Harrowing images of collapsed homes, hospitals, and buildings showed how badly the capital city and towns were hit by the earthquake. But the pictures didn't show the devastating effect on the countryside where the majority of Haitians must make a living. The earthquake disrupted food production, affecting the entire nation where six out of 10 people were hungry even before the earthquake. "For decades, the Haitian government and international donors have neglected agriculture, despite its importance to Haitian lives. If Haiti is going to be built back better then the international community needs to generously support the Haitian government's agricultural investment plan."
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The agency's report, Planting Now: Agricultural Challenges and Opportunities for Haiti's Reconstruction, said strong, sustainable agricultural and rural development is critical to the success of post-earthquake Haiti. As the majority of Haitians still live in the countryside and depend on agriculture for their livelihoods, reconstruction efforts should prioritize agriculture to reduce poverty and improve access to food in both rural and urban Haiti. Nearly 90 percent of rural people were living on less than $2 per day before the earthquake. The tremor displaced more than 2 million Haitians, including nearly 600,000 who initially migrated to the countryside, putting even more pressure on food and fuel resources. The massive international food aid surge following the earthquake reduced food prices and eased access to food, which helped those who were receiving direct food distributions, but hurt rural Haitians whose incomes depend on food sales.
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The Oxfam report calls on the international community to adopt policies that will support Haitian economic development. For example, allowing Haitian exports, particularly apparel products, to have full duty- and quota-free access to the U.S. market would help the country work its way out of poverty. Oxfam also called for Haiti to be exempt from the so-called Bumpers Amendment, which prohibits direct assistance to the development of crops such as rice that may compete globally with U.S. exports. "Currently, U.S. rice subsidies and in-kind food aid undercut Haitian farmers at the same time as the U.S. government is investing in Haitian agricultural development. The international community must abandon these conflicting trade and aid polices in order to support the growth of Haiti's fragile rural economy," said Mathieu. The government of Haiti developed an ambitious $772 million agricultural reconstruction plan – the National Agricultural Investment Plan – focusing on improving infrastructure, boosting production, and enhancing services to rural areas. So far, the international community has not yet agreed to provide all of the resources requested for this plan. The Oxfam report highlights areas of the plan that can be strengthened to build a sustainable agriculture sector in Haiti. This includes supporting the crucial role of women in producing and marketing and strengthening the voice of rural farmers by building up local community organizations. Improving schools, healthcare, jobs, and the capacity of local governments to deliver services and promote community development are also critical to enhancing the quality of rural life. "With adequate support and comprehensive implementation, the National Agricultural Investment Plan could make these regions more attractive and sustainable places to work and live for Haitians. This rural and agricultural development will go a long way toward improving access to food and reducing poverty all over Haiti," said Mathieu.

10/13/2010
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)
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Haiti, one of the poorest and most environmentally degraded countries in the western hemisphere, is one of the many examples in recent times of the crucial role played by ecosystems in reducing disaster risk. Prior to the earthquake in January 2010 which devastated the country, environmental degradation was already a critical challenge, as extensively degraded catchments made Haiti's rural and urban population vulnerable to floods, landslides and severe soil erosion. From August to September 2008, four major storms ravaged Haiti, triggering mudslides and flash floods, leaving thousands homeless, killing nearly 800 people and destroying 60% of the country's harvest. Neighbouring Cuba and the Dominican Republic were also affected but to a significantly lesser degree than Haiti. Did deforestation play a role in multiplying the devastating impact of disasters in Haiti?
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With less than 2% tree cover and high rates of deforestation driven primarily by poverty, Haiti has become extremely vulnerable to floods and landslides during heavy rainfall. Unfortunately, 2008 was not a one-off event. In 2004 tropical storm Jeanne killed an estimated 3,000 people as a result of mudslides and floods coming down exposed mountains. But these lessons are not confined to Haiti alone; flash floods linked to forest degradation are a recurring experience in countries like the Philippines and most recently Mexico and are stark reminders of how environmental degradation can contribute to disaster statistics.
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In the past decade alone, an estimated 2.5 million people globally were affected by natural hazards, 97% of whom were impacted by climate-related and hydro-meteorological disasters. Greater recognition of the vital role of well-managed forests and watersheds in reducing the risks of disasters will help make urban and rural populations more resilient to floods, landslides and other natural hazards, was the theme of the high-level forum convened in Geneva, Switzerland today by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Partnership for Environment and Disaster Risk Reduction (PEDRR) to mark the International Day for Disaster Reduction.
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The audience heard how forests and watersheds provide critical services to both rural and urban communities, including protection against natural hazards and critical support to local livelihoods and economies. Yet these multiple forest services, particularly for natural hazard regulation, continue to be under-valued, resulting in missed opportunities to maximize their potential for disaster prevention and mitigation. Around the world, in countries such as Bolivia's Altiplano region, China, Switzerland and Japan, communities and governments are giving increased recognition to the value of forests for mitigating against floods, avalanches, rockfall and soil erosion while providing timber and non-timber products to support livelihoods.
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The International Day, held annually on 13 October, aims to raise awareness on the impacts of disasters globally, and it originated within the framework of the World Disaster Reduction Campaign, initiated in 2008. The roundtable, attended by members of the development community and the general public, provided a key opportunity to raise awareness of the environmental drivers of disaster risk and discuss the challenges faced by communities and countries in reducing disaster risk and recommendations to guide future actions. It was opened by the Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Disaster Risk Reduction, Margareta Wahlström, and the Ambassador and Permanent Representative of Costa Rica to the United Nations of Geneva, His Excellency Manuel B. Dengo.
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The International Day was also marked this year at the Shanghai Expo with a panel discussion around the theme "The City" which examined ways of building urban centers resilient to natural hazards and included the Assistant Mayor of Chendgu, Mao Zhixiong; the Editor-in-Chief of China Business Times, Li Zhong Chun, and the Chief of UNEP's Post-Conflict and Disaster Management Branch, Henrik Slotte, as well as representatives from the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (UN ISDR).
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More information: PEDRR is a global partnership comprised of UN agencies, international and regional NGOs as well as specialist institutes that collectively aim to influence policy and to improve and coordinate efforts in environmental management and ecosystems-based approaches for sustainable livelihoods and the reduction of disaster risks, including climate-related risks. It also works in collaboration with existing networks and partnerships, such as the Disaster and Environment Working Group in Asia (DEWGA).

Reuters
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Rice farmers could boost their yields by 50 percent with a new method that uses less water Oxfam America said on Wednesday as climate change and drought threaten the staple crop. Growing rice -- considered the major calorie source for about half the world's population -- is water-intensive, accounting for as much as one-third of the planet's annual freshwater use, said Oxfam, a development group. Rice farmers normally rely on flooding their fields to keep seeds covered in water throughout the growing season. But the new method, known as the System of Rice Intensification, or SRI, involves planting seedlings farther apart, keeping fields moist instead of flooding them, transplanting seedlings to fields earlier and weeding manually, Oxfam said in a report.
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Farmers using SRI in parts of Africa, Southeast Asia and India have been able to produce as much as 50 percent more rice with less water, and often with less labor, said the report, written with U.S.-based nonprofit Africare and the Worldwide Fund for Nature. Oxfam's goal is to encourage rice-producing countries to convert 25 percent of rice cultivation to SRI by 2025. "Practices like SRI can both easily translate to increased production and income for farmers," Oxfam President Ray Offenheiser said on Wednesday at an event in Washington. "The benefits have been tangible, improving livelihoods," he said.
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Drought is a top concern for rice producers like Vietnam, where a water shortage this year could hurt production in a key area accounting for 90 percent of the nation's rice exports.A new study from the U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research said the world's most populous areas could face severe droughts in the next few decades. The group wants governments in developing countries to adopt SRI in national development strategies and hopes aid agencies invest in training farmers to use the method. Duddeda Sugunavva, a farmer from the Andhra Pradesh state in southeastern India, said it took her a couple of seasons to get used to the new method after she learned about it from an aid group. But she told the audience on Wednesday that she harvests about 50 percent more rice per acre using the system. "The population is increasing, but the land is not increasing," she said at the Oxfam event. "I want all women farmers to come forward and do SRI." (Reporting by Emily Stephenson; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

10/21/2010
Business-Week
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Haiti on Thursday launched two new mango processing factories that will help farmers export more of the juicy tropical fruit that is a $10 million-a-year business in the impoverished country. Located in two rural towns in the mango-rich northwest, the plants aim to improve packaging and cleaning to decrease the number of mangoes bruised by poor handling and transport on rutted, sun-baked roads. The two processing plants will employ 62 people to train mango farmers about cleaning and packaging and to better document the origin of their crops to meet standards in the United States, where most Haitian mangoes are sold. Haiti grows dozens of different varieties that are indigenous to the country. The only type exported to the U.S. is the "Madame Francis," which is juicy, sweet and a bit fibrous. Last year, Haiti exported $10 million worth of mangoes, accounting for one-third of the country's total agricultural export revenue, according to the U.S. Embassy. With more processing plants, fruit industry leaders think they have the potential to blossom into a $90 million-a-year export business. The new mango processing centers will increase profits for 9,500 farmers by as much as 20 percent, predicts CHF International, the U.S.-financed group that organized the project

By Jane Regan and Marcela Valente
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Neither hurricanes nor floods, nor the devastating January earthquake or Haiti's chronic political instability managed to wipe out the organic gardening initiative underway in that country since 2005. The seed was planted in Argentina twenty years ago. Some 13,000 Haitian families (90,000 people in all) currently work with 23 agronomists in the "ti jaden òganik" (Creole for "small organic garden") project, growing their own food. The goal is to engage one million people in this form of production. The aim of the programme, which began in Argentina under the name Pro-Huerta and is known in French as Programme d'Autoproduction d'Aliments Frais ("Self-Sufficient Fresh Vegetable Programme"), is to promote organic gardens in both cities and rural areas
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So when the Haitian capital and several smaller cities and towns were devastated by the catastrophic Jan. 12 earthquake, which killed more than 220,000 people and left 1.3 million homeless, some families had their own garden production to fall back on and cover some of their food needs, agronomist Emmanuel Fenelon, director of the programme in Haiti, told IPS. "Some families told us they were glad they didn't have to stand in line all the time to suffer the humiliation of asking for food," Fenelon said. The initiative first emerged in Argentina in 1990, where it has since grown to 630,000 gardens and farms distributed in 3,500 urban and rural settings across the South American country. The model has also been replicated in other countries of the region, including Brazil, Colombia, Guatemala and Venezuela.
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"We interact in one form or another with places all over the region. There are all sorts of initiatives, which either replicate the model or take some elements from it, and there's also an international course to provide training in other countries," agronomist Roberto Cittadini, Pro-Huerta coordinator in Argentina, told IPS. But "the Haitian experience has been particularly successful because a great deal has been achieved without considerable inputs or efforts," Cittadini said. According to Cittadini, with a 100-metre garden a family can grow enough food to cover its needs, but a space half that size is also good. And community or church plots can be used too. All anybody needs to do to get started is take a short instruction course, which typically involves eight half-day classes, but varies according to local circumstances. "Although the target beneficiaries are vulnerable families, this is not a welfare-style programme; it requires their active engagement," Cittadini said. A programme coordinator works with a technical team in each province to inform the population about the programme, distribute seeds, tools and handbooks, and monitor progress on the gardens with the help of volunteers who do follow-up work.
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In 2003, Pro-Huerta was included in Argentina's National Food Security Strategy. Despite being a large food producer, 18 percent of the Argentine population had basic unsatisfied needs in 2001, and today more than three percent of the country's 40.5 million people are living in extreme poverty, according to official figures. These organic gardens are also sprouting in schools, prisons, community soup kitchens and senior citizen groups. Food is mostly grown for personal consumption, but trade networks have also emerged. "This is agroecological production: no chemicals are used, pest control is done naturally and the soil is allowed to recover through crop rotation," Cittadini said.
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In Haiti, where some 2.4 million of the country's nine million people are considered "food insecure" and half the food consumed in the country is imported, these small gardens are making a difference, the programme's agronomists say. "It's impressive. Many women tell us that they no longer need to buy parsley or cabbage. I know we're having an impact," said Fenelon, the first agronomist to join the programme, which is housed in the Haitian headquarters of the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture (IICA) and is also backed by the governments of Spain and Canada. In addition to working with women's, youth, and peasant organisations, as well as churches, the programme's agronomists cooperate with the Agriculture and Functional Literacy Ministries, training colleagues, literacy teachers, promoters and volunteers.
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Young adults who are just now learning to read and write in Creole -- one of Haiti's two official languages, but the only one spoken by all Haitians -- receive a colourfully illustrated booklet showing a family planting their garden. The booklet, based on a similar one from Argentina, uses drawings to show how to start the planting process in boxes, discarded tubs or old tires, how to rotate crops, how to make compost, and other gardening techniques. Since its inception, Pro-Huerta has spread from Argentina throughout Latin America. Pro-Huerta was brought to Haiti in 2005, after Argentina sent military and police forces to take part in the United Nations Stabilisation Mission (MINUSTAH).
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Today the programme operates in six of Haiti's ten departments or provinces: Artibonite, Centre, Northeast, North, West and South, and is expected to be launched soon in the Northwest department, with the support of the governments of Colombia and Barbados. National authorities are hoping to reach one million people by 2013. Towards meeting that goal, a delegation headed by Haiti's agriculture minister, Joanas Gué, travelled to Argentina in late September and visited several organic farms and gardens that have made progress in local seed production, poultry raising and water management. Pro-Huerta "is probably the most successful example of South-South cooperation," Argentine foreign minister Héctor Timerman said. Argentine engineers Francisco Zelaya and David Arias Paz continued their visits to Haiti, even after the January earthquake, staying in tents, and "they did an excellent job with Fenelon, making it possible for the programme to thrive despite the odds," Cittadini said.
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"Lately we've been training families to produce their own seeds, good seeds," Fenelon said. "This is an important step towards assuring food security and food sovereignty." Seeds are a flashpoint issue in Haiti. Following the earthquake, the agroindustrial giant Monsanto donated four million dollars worth of hybrid maize and vegetable seeds to the government, sparking outcries and protests, including the burning of mounds of seeds. As it turned out, the seeds were not really donated but offered to farmers for a fee. Fenelon says his country has no use for hybrid seeds. "With programs like Pro-Huerta, we can help Haitian farmers improve their own seeds, their nutrition and their economic situation, all at the same time," he concluded.

The size of the food-insecure population is steadily shrinking due, in large part, to the good performance of spring crops. There has been a clear improvement in food availability and food prices are stabilizing on most markets. The implementation of cash-for-work programs around the country is providing many people, including the poor, with job opportunities. Nearly all parts of the country are getting regular, moderate rainfall, which has been good for summer planting activities and for proper crop growth and development in wet mountain and irrigated plain areas. Harvests of beans, rice, yams, and vegetables are extremely promising. These food crops will further bolster food availability, which should help keep prices stable.
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A total of thirteen storms have already been reported, none of which have affected any high-risk areas such as the Southern Peninsula and the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area. However, the likelihood of a tropical storm striking these areas still exists, which would undermine the food security situation in impacted communities.The size of the food insecure population has reduced considerably in all parts of the country. Right now, most single-cropped plateau, wet mountain, and plain areas show no signs of acute food insecurity due mainly to the good performance of spring crops, whose harvests are running into September, as well as the large volume of imports. Moreover, after decreasing in July and August, food prices are stabilizing. The average August prices of certain foodstuffs were down when compared to figures for August of last year. Thus, on average, imported rice, for example, one of the most heavily consumed food items in Haiti, was selling for 113 gourdes per six pound sack in August of this year, compared with its average price of 124 gourdes at the same time last year. Likewise, the local luxury variety of rice (Sheila) is currently selling for an average of 244 gourdes per six pound sack compared with an average price of 253 gourdes at the same time last year. FEWS NET has also noticed larger quantities of wheat grain on local markets without producing any related fluctuation in prices. In addition to the wheat entering the country through the Dominican Republic, Les Moulins d’Haïti (the Haitian National Milling Company) has been marketing wheat not processed in its own mills. For some time now, markets in Croix-des-Bossales and the provinces have been selling wheat flour bearing the USAID logo. All of this has helped increase the supply of wheat and keep prices stable. This trend in prices should help larger numbers of households improve their nutritional status or, in some cases, save money for purchasing new assets or educating family members. Moreover, the implementation of cash-for-work programs in many parts of the country has provided job opportunities for poor households, whose incomes are generally low and whose food access is limited, which could help them hold out longer once prices begin to rise.
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The good distribution of rainfall in July and August helped spur the growth and development of bean crops in wet mountain areas and rice crops in irrigated areas, whose harvests will run into October and November, boosting food supplies and keeping prices affordable. The current growing season for rice crops, which are just beginning to be harvested, is the country’s main rice-growing season accounting for over 60 percent of nationwide rice production. Rice farmers were armed with necessary inputs (seeds and fertilizers) for this growing season, which is looking extremely promising. Though the food security outlook for many parts of the country appears to be good, certain municipalities (Anse-Rouge, Terre-Neuve, and Baie de Henne) in dry agropastoral areas of the Northwest and the Artibonite, as well as the municipality of Belle-Anse, are highly food insecure. The severe rainfall conditions in these areas have caused crop losses, with local residents resorting to different survival strategies, the most popular of which is charcoal production. NGOs are mounting programs in these municipalities but are targeting mainly internally displaced people (IDPs) through food or cash-for-work activities.
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However, the hurricane season is still extremely active. So far, no high-risk areas have been struck by any tropical storms, though the likelihood of this occurring still exists. Historically, the months of September and October are the deadliest months in terms of severe weather. The forecasts issued by FEWS NET and the CNSA with regard to the occurrence of tropical storms and associated damage to food security conditions are still valid, particularly for the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and the Southern Peninsula, both of which are extremely vulnerable to these types of shocks.
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Southern Peninsula Aside from certain municipalities like Belle-Anse, in which local households are highly food insecure, conditions on the Southern Peninsula are divided between no acute food insecurity and moderate food-insecurity according to the FEWS NET food insecurity severity scale (Figure 1). This area is benefiting from the good distribution of rainfall over the past two months. Farmers are taking full advantage of these good rainfall conditions, planting their fields with various crops, particularly beans, yams, and vegetables. Harvests of late-planted spring corn crops in plain areas and harvests of beans and yams in wet mountain areas (Salagnac and Les Anglais) are still in progress.
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Markets are well stocked with a variety of food items and food prices are gradually stabilizing. Corn prices on the Southern Peninsula are lower than in any other part of the country, at 40 gourdes per six pound sack in Les Cayes and Jérémie, compared with 123 and 80 gourdes, respectively, in Cap-Haitien and Gonaïves. In contrast, local prices for black beans are higher than in other parts of the country, at approximately 175 gourdes per six pound sack in Les Cayes and Jérémie, versus 130 and 140 gourdes, respectively, in Port-au-Prince and Cap-Haitien. The explanation for this price spread lies in the fact that bean farmers missed the spring growing season on the peninsula. Bean prices could fall over the course of October with the first harvests of crops planted in July, which look promising. In addition to plentiful market supplies of grain, there are also adequate supplies of other crops such as breadfruits, avocados, yams, bananas, and vegetables in the plain areas of Les Cayes, Grand-Anse, and Nippes.
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All of these factors, including an adequate food supply, affordable prices, job creation for the benefit of the poor, and the distribution of free food aid to at-risk populations, have helped keep food insecurity levels somewhere between no acute food insecurity and moderate food insecurity allowing households to meet their basic food needs. However, certain households are resorting to survival mechanisms such as the felling of trees for charcoal production, particularly in agropastoral areas and dry farming and fishing areas. Food security conditions could deteriorate over the course of October with atmospheric disturbances causing flooding and closing roads. A deterioration in food security conditions on the Southern Peninsula before the end of the current outlook period is still highly likely as a result of the damage liable to be caused by high winds and flooding, destroying crops, food stores, and homes and, in some cases, causing losses of human lives. Such events could occur anywhere on the Southern Peninsula between September and the end of November and beyond.
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The food security situation in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area is steadily improving. Markets are supplied with a variety of imported and local products, and staple food prices are stable (Figure 3). Cash-for-work programs are providing employment for more than 20,000 workers. A number of organizations are making preparations or are already in the process of making cash transfers and supplying food vouchers to residents of IDP camps, which can only help strengthen food access or ease potential future problems caused by tropical storms or other sociopolitical shocks. The frequent but moderate rainfall reported in this area in the last few weeks has not caused any major flooding problems. However, the rainy season is making life difficult in IDP camps, where health conditions have deteriorated with the formation of seasonal ponds liable to cause epidemic outbreaks of malaria or other diseases spread by stagnant pools of water. Though none of the reported 13 tropical depressions have affected the metropolitan area, there is still a high risk of flooding in September and October, which are extremely wet months, in what was expected to be an extremely active hurricane season.
Despite the good food availability in the Port-au-Prince metropolitan area and the measures taken by decision makers to improve food access, a large part of the population is still threatened by food insecurity problems in the aftermath of tropical storms leading to flooding, which would cut supply lines to and from Port-au-Prince along impassable roads and destroy food stores. This threat could last until the end of November, which marks the end of the hurricane season. The approaching elections scheduled to take place on November 28th are also creating situations liable to undermine food security. Spontaneous street demonstrations or demonstrations organized by opponents of the elections could lead to problems, which would discourage investment by economic stakeholders. The poorest households whose members earn their daily living from peddling, for example, would be the first to suffer the consequences. Such a scenario is still likely to play out between now and the end of December.

By Jennifer Wells
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GROS MORNE, HAITI: The red JAC pickup truck is possessed of a ’70s countenance, a slightly detached bumper, and, if a vehicle can be ascribed human characteristics, a world-weariness that suggests that this journey may be her last.If she survives, that is.
And, come to think of it, if we survive. We’re pounding north of the coastal city of Gonaives, having exited Haiti’s Route Nationale 1, picking up a feeder road which, according to the map, is dubbed D150 but which could more appropriately be renamed Every Bump is Going to Hurt Your Ass, or however one says that in Creole. And to think this is my second attempt at studying the Haitian mango harvest in the hopes of understanding how the luscious fruit could be such an export failure in this country of never-ending failures. Last pass, all went rather well until I found myself squelching through rice paddies in swiftly deteriorating leather sandals before attempting to forge The River That Swallows BlackBerrys and finding myself being held more or less upright against a determined undertow by a sturdy fellow named Narcisse Joseph whom I had known for all of 30 minutes. So here we are jostling and swaying in the red pickup truck as it frequently descends into meteoritic potholes that last night ruthlessly took out a mango truck that never did make its delivery to Port-au-Prince.
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The mango season is drawing to a close and capturing the end offerings of the harvest means heading further and further upcountry through the historically fertile Artibonite lowlands, which will serve, in a matter of weeks, as tragic host to a cholera epidemic that will fell farmers by the thousands. Northward, the road edges along the underbelly of the Massif du Nord, journeying to the town of Gros Morne and ultimately the village of Kamas. Elapsed time: five jolting hours. Question scribbled in reporter’s notebook: “How the hell can a mango survive this?” This is not a frivolous line of enquiry. Haiti’s major roadworks — seven national highways in various states of repair — tie on to supplementary roads that are often in a condition of complete collapse. Further into the interior, these thoroughfares give way to narrow dirt byways, none of which favours the care of mangoes. This has not gone unnoticed by, among others, former U.S. president George W. Bush. In the mid-August swelter Bush, on behalf of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, arrived on the loading dock of Ralph Perry’s mango enterprise in Port-au-Prince. He clapped Perry, one of the country’s largest mango exporters, on the shoulder in that inimitable Texan death grip way, posed for a photo op (mango in hand), and, in the most surreal moment of the mid-day excursion, granted an exclusive interview to his daughter, Jenna, present in her guise as a reporter for NBC’s Today Show. “There’s a lot of people in Haiti dependent upon the mango to make a livelihood,” Bush informed his daughter, who murmured her new-found understanding of this fact. “The problem is that the growing techniques are not very efficient and a lot of times the mangoes die before they make it here for export.” Perhaps a bit dramatic, that dying bit. Still, for the purposes of American television consumption, a simple point was more or less made. Odielon Pierelus’s lean, articulated body is bent nearly double on the stoop of his tin-roofed, two-room hut. On this hot August afternoon he is working with speed and efficiency. Today he has mangoes and possibly tomorrow he will have mangoes and then the season will come to an end.
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On the trees nearby, the mangoes — introduced to Haiti by Captain Bligh himself, they say — hang teasingly in pendulous plenty, the fruit tethered by long, delicate stems. With the aid of a keyette the fruit could be easily retrieved. The keyette is the rudimentary tool of the trade: a long wooden pole with a simply fashioned wire hoop on one end that holds in place any-kind-of-sack-you-can-find. (The plasticized gunnies that once held U.S. imported rice are popular.) The farmer — who may be standing on the ground or who may be perched in the upper regions of the tree — raises the keyette under the tip of the mango until the fruit is cradled in the bosom of the bag. With a single, neat leaf-rustling tug, the mango is severed from the branch of life. But these particular mangoes — small, rounded — are unloved. For those that are internationally marketable, the pickers have had to go farther afield. While Haiti can claim as many as 140 varietals, only one, the Madame Francique, has been deemed suitable for export to the U.S. Through the late afternoon, double-packed burros step delicately down from the edge of the sierra that rises beyond a nearby river. Their noses dip toward the pewter water as they make their determined way toward the village pathways, past lazing flutes of bright hibiscus and arborescent cacti. It has been such a long journey: the burros have been on the road since 3 a.m., travelling six hours to the mango grove, re-emerging as the day is almost done. Burro after burro until the sun begins to slide It is only the beginning. The burros are relieved of their burden as the mangoes are poured, not all that gently, on to the ground.
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The kidney shape of the Francique fits enticingly in Pierelus’s hand. Her skin is waxen and smooth. He washes the fruit, one by one, before ferrying the mangoes to the storage corner in his home, where they sit like a muster of green parrots, the occasional flushes of yellow flaring across their seductive shapes. On their bottoms they sit, so as to prevent the milk from the freshly detached stem from trickling down — and thus staining — the precious fruit. Only the prettiest will make the journey to the capital. Those rejected by the first selection — the scarred, the stained — will be sold into the local market. In Fermathe, where Lovely Avelus’s mother, Rosemene, does the market shopping, she will pay 10 gourdes, or about 25 cents, for a mango. Here in Kamas, mango skins litter the ground, the remnants of rejects that have been devoured. The selected ones are humped by the sackful to the back of pickup trucks where they sit, unprotected from the rough, jostling journey all the way back to Port-au-Prince.
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Ronald Dandressol is on site to supervise. Dandressol works for Carifresh, a family-owned company and the fifth-largest mango exporter in Haiti. He oversees the selection of the mangoes and the Carifresh payment of 50 gourdes per dozen, or about $1.25. A good, mature 15-year-old mango tree can yield as many as 200 dozen mangoes a season. The 50 gourde pay is an increase: until very recently, Dandressol says, Carifresh paid 45 gourdes for 12. “I have to play the game also,” he notes of the farmers’ push for higher compensation. “I have a truck waiting here. Without the mangoes, I can’t load.” The mangoes that survive the drive to the capital and the flight to Montreal and ultimately land on the shelf of Kishor Patel’s Marché Victoria Oriental on Boulevard des Sources will individually fetch at a minimum $1 and as much as twice that depending on size. Patel imports from Carifresh. He likes the product. He doesn’t rate it as highly as the prized Alphonso from India — “The Alphonso has something that no other mango has,” he says, though he can’t define that ineffable quality — but the Haitian mango wins in size and — this is key — can be grown for export six months of the year as the harvesting of the fruit moves through a series of microclimates in the south, finishing here in the north.
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How can this not be a winning recipe? Well, it was, once. There was a time, prior to the U.S. trade embargo of 1991 that followed the overthrow of then president Jean-Bertrand Aristide, when Haitian mangoes had a strong foothold in the U.S. market. By 1992, that market had collapsed. Dandressol, who has been working in mangoes for 14 years, makes the striking comparison between Haiti and Mexico. With an eager and quickly accessible U.S. market, Mexico went on a tree planting tear. “They planted thousands and thousands and thousands of trees,” he says. Haiti, absent a major export market, too often cut down its trees for charcoal. The divergent outcomes are stark: Haiti’s exports to the U.S. last year, at just over 9,000 metric tonnes, are less than three-quarters of where it was in 1991. Mexico, by contrast, grew and grew and grew, exporting about 185,000 metric tonnes to the U.S. last year for a market share of 62 per cent. And the market share for its onetime competitor in the mango market? Four.
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Of course there’s a longer tale of woe. Start with the earthquake. “We lost the first harvest,” says Carifresh vice-president Cassandra Reimers from her office at Croix des Bouquets on the outskirts of Port-au-Prince. “It was supposed to start at the beginning of March but with the earthquake everything was set back a month.” A Carifresh building was knocked out. The United States Department of Agriculture had to recertify the plant, a process that Reimers says went slowly. The company shipped its first mangoes on April 26. There are acts of nature. And then there is the predictable state of life in Haiti. “There is no infrastructure,” wails Cassandra’s father, Wilhelm, who started the business a quarter-century ago. “You can see the road!” He gestures past the security gate to Santo 17, where the cratered road sits filled with last night’s rain even as the morning dust crawls up your nose and down your throat. “I do try. I pay $75,000 to $100,000 every three years to fix the road. This year I can’t.”
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Yield losses are out of control. The Reimers estimate that 30 per cent of the mango crop is lost between picking and processing. In a draft report released in August, Haiti’s presidential commission on competition estimated that the losses run far higher at 60 per cent. It’s true, Wilhelm Reimers says, that if you factor in mangos being picked too early by too-eager farmers, the reject rate runs fantastically high. The rudimentary collection process and the rough road to port are both at fault. And that’s if you can get a truck. The surfeit of post-earthquake NGOs on the ground in Haiti hasn’t helped. “They raise the price. They pay a lot of money (to rent trucks),” laments Wilhelm. “I can’t afford to pay that much money to transport the mangoes from the field to the plant.” He says the NGOs are offering $4,000 (U.S.) a week, eight times what he is used to paying. “That’s a big, big, big, huge difference.”
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Wilhelm recently paid $37,000 — cash — for a forklift. “We can’t survive without a forklift,” he says, adding dryly, “We couldn’t find a tire in Haiti.” He did attempt to rent one, a forklift, that is. It showed up seeping oil from its undercarriage. The new forklift has been sitting in customs for three months. “They don’t have the system. Every day they give a different problem.” He’s used to waiting. The cardboard boxes he imports to ship the mangoes to retail clients are often held up at the border for weeks. Patience? He waited 15 years for a landline at his company headquarters. “So a business with no phone,” he shrugs. And don’t get him started on financing. “They say the mango business is a risky business. What’s the word they call that? It’s a risky area. They don’t want to put money in any agriculture in Haiti. The bank? You can’t finance nothing.” Downstairs at the loading dock today’s mango delivery is being subjected to a second selection process. Once again, the rejects will be sold into the local market.
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Inside the processing plant, a full-time inspector from the U.S. Department of Agriculture sits in a little booth and waits. Along one wall of the plant sit two enormous vats of water heated at a temperature of 46 degrees Celsius. Into this, crates of today’s mangoes — transferred by forklift — will be lowered for a good long immersion bath of at least 45 minutes, a process demanded by the USDA to prevent against infestation by the West Indian fruit fly. Only the Madame Francique, with that thick skin of hers, can withstand the hot-water immersion without doing damage to the fruit. The mangoes will then be treated to a cold-water soak before being dried and packaged for shipping. The top 10 Haitian exporters, including Carifresh, have to bear, equally and regardless of size, the $1.2 million annual cost for the USDA inspectors, which must be on site at each plant. For a company like Carifresh, it’s a huge entry level cost of doing business. Set against the total value of the country’s mango exports — roughly $11 million last year — it seems wildly out of whack.
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What’s wrong with this picture? Agreed. Just about everything. And yet, the mango is Haiti’s most valuable agricultural export and could, if levered into value-added products (juices, frozen fruit, etc.), be key to the country’s economic future. For the Reimers, the remedy begins, logically, in a ground-up strategy. Carifresh is building eight collection centres with financial assistance from the Inter-American Development Bank. Federations of 100 or more fragmented farmers will be aligned with each centre. “We’re regrouping these people,” says Cassandra Reimers, who is young, energetic, eager to take on her father’s business and, ironically, can’t stand the smell of mangoes. “We’re going to get everybody who has trees in this area all together, and then plant mango trees in between to make an entire field of mango trees. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
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Agronomists, she adds, will advise on the planting and care of the trees. It takes only five to seven years for a mango tree to bloom. They are magic in fruit bearing not to mention the role they play in the environment, not least their contribution to the reforestation of a stripped country. “We’re going to be working with the poorest of the poor,” says Eduardo Almeida, country manager for the IADB. “People who have one mango tree, two mango trees.” There are, he reminds, an estimated 450,000 small agricultural producers in the country. Post earthquake, the development bank joined forces with Coca-Cola Co. and TechnoServe, which assists small business growth in developing countries, to form the Haiti Hope project. Haiti Hope will help 25,000 mango farmers produce crops more efficiently. On behalf of the Clinton Bush Haiti Fund, George W. Bush threw $500,000 into the pot. Any improvements to the mango harvest, Almeida says, can only benefit other fruit production with high export potential: bananas and avocados. And improving the shipment yield? Carifresh has 4,000 plastic shipping crates on order. “The way you saw them being loaded yesterday, they’re not going to load any more like this,” says Wilhelm Reimers. No more humping of mangoes to the bare floor of a pickup truck. “You’re seeing the end.” The end is but a modest beginning. A plastic crate — once it eventually clears customs — will provide some measure of protection. One day the major roads will be repaired. Perhaps the feeder roads will be too. But it is too much to imagine that in his lifetime Odielon Pierelus’s subsistence existence will change substantially. The burros will continue to delicately step down from the mountain and he will cradle the Madame Francique, one by one.

Washington Post
By Javier Blas
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The bill for global food imports will top $1 trillion this year for the second time, putting the world "dangerously close" to a new food crisis, according to the United Nations. The warning by the world body's Food and Agriculture Organization adds to fears about rising inflation in emerging countries from China to India. "Prices are dangerously close to the levels of 2007-08," said Abdolreza Abbassian, an economist at the FAO. The note of worry was sounded Wednesday in the FAO's latest twice-yearly Food Outlook, along with a warning that the world should "be prepared" for even higher prices next year. The report said it was crucial that farm production - particularly of corn and wheat - "expand substantially" in 2011-12 to meet expected demand and rebuild world reserves. But the FAO also said the production response may be limited, because rising food prices have made other crops, including sugar, soybeans and cotton, attractive to grow. "This could limit individual crop production responses to levels that would be insufficient to alleviate market tightness. Against this backdrop, consumers may have little choice but to pay higher prices for their food," it said.
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The agency raised its forecast for the global bill for food to $1.026 trillion this year, up nearly 15 percent from 2009 and within a whisker of an all-time high of $1.031 trillion set in 2008 during the food crisis. "With the pressure on world prices of most commodities not abating, the international community must remain vigilant against further supply shocks in 2011," the FAO added. In the 10 years before the 2007-08 food crisis, the global bill for food imports averaged less than $500 billion a year. Agricultural commodities prices have surged after a series of crop failures caused by bad weather. The situation was aggravated when top producers such as Russia and Ukraine imposed export restrictions, prompting importers in the Middle East and North Africa to hoard supplies. The weakness of the U.S .dollar, in which most food commodities are denominated, has also contributed to higher prices. The FAO's food index, a basket tracking the wholesale cost of wheat, corn, rice, oilseeds, dairy products, sugar and meats, jumped last month to levels last seen at the peak of the 2007-08 crisis. The index rose last month to 197.1 points - up nearly 5 percent from September.

11/23/2010
Reuters Alertnet
By Tosin Sulaiman
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Haiti's massive earthquake didn't just destroy its capital Port-au-Prince, the devastation has also had a major impact on farmers in the countryside, say two U.S. lawyers providing pro bono help in the country. Andrew Richards and Ralph Delouis went to Haiti earlier this year to help expand a non-profit microfinance organisation providing crucial loans to farmers affected by the disaster. The January 12 quake killed 300,000 people and left more than 1 million homeless in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western hemisphere where over half the population lives on less than $1 a day. Before the quake many subsistence farmers used to rely on remittances sent back by family working in the capital. Not only have these stopped, but many farmers now have more mouths to feed after relatives lost their homes and jobs.
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The microfinance organisation, which provides small-scale farmers with loans of $200-$400, saw increased demand for help after the disaster. Farmers have very little access to credit in Haiti where commercial banks are loath to invest in agriculture because of the risks involved. Although the microfinance organisation had been operating informally for several years, it wanted to be recognised as an official banking institution so that it could access funding from international donors. Its goal is to increase its funding from $200,000 to $1 million, Richards said. "They felt that for the sake of transparency and being able to approach Western funding sources as a credible institution they should be incorporated and chartered," he added.
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During a trip to Port-au-Prince in June, the lawyers helped put together a banking charter and an application to the Central Bank of Haiti. The organisation's new status will enable it to help around 2000 Haitians working in the food and agricultural sectors, providing loans that can be used to buy seeds, fertiliser and equipment. Richards and Delouis, lawyers at the New York office of McCarter & English, were recruited for the case by the International Senior Lawyers Project (ISLP), a New York-based group which provides pro bono assistance to governments and non-profit organisations in the developing world.
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Marie-Claude Jean-Baptiste, project manager for Haiti programmes at the ISLP, said many of the beneficiaries of the microfinance project would be rural farmers who had stopped receiving remittances from their families in Port-au-Prince and other cities affected by the earthquake. "Usually, they would put away the best crops for the next planting season," said Jean-Baptiste, a Haitian-born attorney. "They had to use this to feed neighbours and family members who had come from Port-au-Prince. They needed more finances to purchase new crops." For Delouis, who is Haitian-American and visits Port-au-Prince at least once a year, the trip was particularly poignant. The quake killed an uncle and a cousin and destroyed the family home. Delouis described the experience of being back in Haiti as "very tough on the eyes". "Through my various trips I had been able to witness the growth of the country and so to see things go back to ground zero was really hard," he said.
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His mother and brother had arrived in Port-au-Prince shortly before the quake struck and for two days he did not know whether they were alive or dead. "I was really nervous ... because the epicenter, Petionville, is not very far from where my family is," he recalled. "With the phone lines down everyone was calling but couldn't get through. I just had to wait and hope for the best." A family friend eventually reported they were safe. Even though five months had passed since the earthquake, the two lawyers found it difficult to move around the capital because of the amount of rubble everywhere. Holding meetings with their client and with officials from the Haitian Finance Ministry and Central Bank was also a challenge because few buildings in Port-au-Prince were intact. The microfinance organisation, which does not want to be identified, had had to move from the city centre to one of the suburbs because its office had been destroyed. "They were working out of a house. They had a tent set up outside," Richards recalled. "The minister of finance that we met was working out of a very small temporary building. It was very crowded and everyone was jammed in there." Richards developed an interest in microfinance while volunteering with the U.S. Peace Corps in Cameroon from 2003 to 2006. He worked there as an auditor and consultant to a dozen microbanks.
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Since returning to the States, Richards has advised financial institutions wanting to invest in microfinance programmes and is now co-head of McCarter and English's social investment practice. The two lawyers are confident that the microfinance project will have a long-term impact, especially given the growing emphasis on decentralisation in Haiti. "Part of the complexity of Haiti's current situation is that so much is centralised in the capital," said Delouis. "A lot of the time people in the rural sector are forgotten. The main focus of our client is bringing some attention to the people who have been forgotten."

12/29/2010
FAO
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A significant portion of the rice harvest in northwestern Haiti is likely to be lost because of farmers' fears of cholera contamination, an FAO preliminary assessment indicates. FAO and the Haitian Ministries of Agriculture and Health are engaged in a campaign to provide hygiene information to farmers reluctant to harvest rice during the ongoing cholera emergency in the country. Many farmers are avoiding the harvest, fearing that the water in the rivers and canals that irrigate their paddies and other fields might be infected. There are also reports of consumers being unwilling to purchase produce from regions directly affected by the cholera outbreak which will further impact agricultural commerce in the area. An FAO assessment team recently noted that some of the deaths in rural areas are not recorded by the authorities and many cases probably result from farming families not having access to the right information.
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Since lost crops may impinge on food production, and thus on food security and livelihoods, FAO is now working closely with Haitian authorities and the UN agencies dealing with health and sanitation to give farmers the correct information regarding the precautions to take while working in the fields. FAO and its Agriculture Cluster partners are currently also supporting the assessment on cholera's impact on food security and rural livelihoods, led by the Coordination Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire (CNSA). According to Etienne Peterschmitt, Senior Emergency and Rehabilitation Coordinator for FAO in Haiti, it is extremely important that disease transmission mitigation measures specifically target farm communities and even more to the point, farm workers. A rapid FAO assessment revealed that the radio stations used for transmission of sensitization messages don't reach some remote areas. More sensitization designed to target rural low-income communities' needs to be done in person through hands on training and outreach.
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Without a timely response to the damage caused by floods and cholera to Haitian agriculture, food security could plunge, worsening the effects of last January's earthquake on the poor rural population. The effects of the cholera outbreak have been magnified by the November floods caused by hurricane Tomas which damaged farming infrastructure, damaging up to 78 000 hectares of crops and caused the disease to spread further, resulting in a sanitary crisis for over 50 000 rural families.

ON-THE-RECORD BRIEFING
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Deputy Coordinator for Diplomacy for Feed the Future Patricia Haslach,
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USAID Haiti Mission Director Carleene Dei and
Deputy Director USAID Office for Food for Peace Jonathan Dworken
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OPERATOR: Welcome, and thank you for standing by. At this time, participants are in a listen-only mode. To ask a question during the question-and-answer session, press *1 on your touchtone phone. Today’s conference is recorded. If you have any objections, you may disconnect at this time. I will now turn the meeting over to Mr. Mark Toner. Sir, you may begin.
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MR. TONER: Thank you, and thank all of you for joining us. Just a brief note before we hand it over to our speakers. As you know the one-year anniversary of Haiti’s devastating earthquake is approaching. This is the first of three conference calls that we’re planning. The other two will be on infrastructure and health, just trying to update all of you in the media on efforts that have been undertaken since last year’s earthquake. Today’s speakers will be Ambassador Patricia Haslach, who’s the State Department’s deputy coordinator for Diplomacy for Feed the Future. We’ll also have Carleene Dei, the USAID mission director of Haiti, and Jonathan Dworken, who is the deputy director of USAID’s Office of Food for Peace. I believe Ambassador Haslach, you’ll lead off, and Carleene, you’ll follow suit, and Jonathan, and then we’ll open up to your questions. So let’s go ahead and hand it over to Ambassador Haslach.
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AMBASSADOR HASLACH: Well, great. Thank you very much. And in addition to the one-year anniversary for Haiti, we are seeing a – yet again on the world scene, an increase in food prices. And it was actually the increase in food prices back in ’07 and ’08 that prompted President Obama at the G8 meeting to make a commitment of $3.5 billion over three years to help leverage and align other donors in a commitment to reengage in agriculture. And this is a global movement, and Haiti is one of the countries that is included in this movement. And I’m – what I’m going to do is just talk very briefly a little bit about the Feed the Future initiative, and then I’m going to leave it to Carleene, the USAID mission director, and to Jonathan to talk specifically about the Haiti components. But I think it’s important that you remember that Haiti is part of an overall U.S. Government program called – now called Feed the Future. We were able, in addition to our commitment, to get other donors to commit $18.5 billion to food security, and we’ve also been part of a trust fund that’s being managed by the World Bank, the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program Trust Fund, which has already committed $225 million to five countries in its first round of funding and 97 million in its second round of funding, and Haiti has also been one of the recipients of that program. It’s important to also put our Feed the Future program in context because it is actually part of the U.S. Government’s strategic and analytical approach to accelerate the progress towards the Millennium Development Goals of sustaining and reducing hunger and poverty. And at the – on the margins of the MDG summit in New York in September, Secretary Clinton, along with Irish Foreign Minister Martin, launched an initiative called 1,000 Days, which is part of our Feed the Future, but the focus on that is actually on the nutrition, and it’s important that we not lose sight of the nutrition, as it is a very important part of our Feed the Future initiative. Our focus with Feed the Future is investing resources actually in agricultural-led development, and in Haiti’s case this is to improve the food security of the Haitian people over the long term. This is not a short-term program. This is one where we’re trying to really look to the future and commit to the future. Our contribution is actually – I mentioned to a cooperative global effort centered on country-owned processes and plans that implement a common approach to improving food security, ag production and, again, nutrition.
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Feed the Future – under our program we’re investing in food security and ag development priorities that are identified by the partner country through something called a country-led investment plan. Countries have different names for it; in Africa, it’s called the Comprehensive African Agricultural Development Program, CAADP. Every country has a different name, but basically it’s a country plan with regard to agriculture production, agricultural investment. In Feed the Future, we’re focusing on actually creating a foundation for sustainable economic growth, and this is by helping countries like Haiti accelerate inclusive ag sector growth, to improve ag productivity, expanding markets and trade, and increased economic resilience in vulnerable world communities. And again, Haiti is a really good example of what we’re trying to do. We recognize that food security through isn’t only about food. It’s also closely linked to economic security, environmental security, and human security. So our Feed the Future reflects our tradition and culture of innovation and sustainability by focusing on results and progress that can be sustained over time, concentrating on specific sectors where we have a comparative advantage, including research and private sector growth. And those are two where under Feed the Future we are actually allocating, in addition to funds that will go to the individual Feed the Future countries, we are also going to be supporting regional programs, regional research and have a big focus on private sector-led growth. We are also doing this – we’re calling this whole of government, but basically what this means is all of the U.S. Government agencies that have some piece of food and agriculture included, and this is Department of Agriculture, the Foreign – under that, the Foreign Agriculture Service as well as the Ag Research Service and others, and then the Peace Corps., there’s the U.S. Department of Treasury, our U.S. Trade Representatives Office, the Millennium Challenge Corporation – that one is very important, because what we’re trying to do is leverage some of their investments in the larger infrastructure projects in agriculture to support some of our programs in Feed the Future. It’s also important to know that we’re really focusing on women; they are the key agriculture producers in many of the countries where we are focusing our attention, and they are critical actors in our view for creating a food secure world. And again, we’re also ensuring that our efforts lead to climate resilience and that they are environmentally sustainable, and Carleene can address a little bit of why we’ve chosen certain corridors in Haiti. A lot of it is actually looking at the environmental and the climate change sides of this. This is – I think we have not been focusing on – we’re acknowledging now that we have not focused enough attention on food security, on agriculture. It’s not just the United States; it’s the other donors as well. The Green Revolution occurred more than 50 years ago, and we realize, at least on the research side, we really need to reenergize our focus on agriculture if we’re going to be able to feed what’s going to be estimated as over nine billion people by the year 2050. So I think what’s important, again, to emphasize it’s country-owned, it’s a country-led process, it’s a country-led strategy, and in designing these programs our USAID missions take the lead on the ground working with the governments. The governments are supposed to be consulting with nongovernmental organizations, civil society, and again, the private sector. This cannot be done just by the governments alone, so part of their country-led investment plan actually calls for working with other stakeholders.
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It also calls for not just the Ministry of Agriculture. It means that all of the ministries similar to our approach, this whole-of-government approach, should be included and the consultative process, should be included in the implementation of the program, or it will not work. And finally, I think something that’s a little bit unique and maybe not so unique – we started this with our DMCC – is we are really focusing on measuring the impact, and we are putting a lot of resources and human resources into results framework and monitoring and evaluation. This is key. This is what Congress is demanding from us. This is what our U.S. citizens are demanding from us. So this is a very, very, very important component of our program. So with that, I think I’ll turn the specifics over to Carleene and Jonathan. Thank you. Carleene, are you there?
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MS. DEI: I thought I was going to be introduced, but –
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AMBASSADOR HASLACH: Oh, okay.
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MS. DEI: -- if you want me to jump –
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AMBASSADOR HASLACH: Oh, I don’t know. Are you being introduced?
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MR. TONER: Sorry, Carleene. Go ahead. (Laughter.)
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MS. DEI: That’s no problem. I’m Carleene Dei, and I’m the mission director here in Haiti, and I think the ambassador has pretty much summed up our philosophy here in Haiti. The – we have – we’re working on a comprehensive new strategy just prior to the earthquake, and naturally, when the earthquake took place we had to realign much of the – many of the programs that we had been planning to reflect this. But interestingly enough, I think food security is one of the areas where we did not have as much work to do, simply because we have been more or less on the right track prior to the earthquake, and what we did following the earthquake was take the additional resources that became available to us through the supplemental and through Feed the Future to expand our program. The program was developed in very, very close coordination with the Government of Haiti, specifically the Department of Agriculture, which had developed a Country Investment Plan; the ambassador has just referred to that. And we and ten other major donors bought into it. It’s all about sustainability. There is no point in doing a project that when you leave the project collapses. And we have had a lot of experience and developed a lot of models that have taught us how to make projects sustainable. I think the key ingredient is the massive participation of the farmers and of the local government so that people take ownership for what you’re doing, see how they can make a profit, and continue it after you’ve withdrawn your particular set of resources or have reduced them. The strategy is focused on three regional corridors – one in the north in Cap Haitien; one in the cul-de-sac region, which are the plains just surrounding Haiti Port-au-Prince proper, the capital; and the third is in Saint Marc. That’s a region that’s usually not buffeted by the annual hurricanes, and in Haiti that’s unusual. And so it means that the probability of disruption from the usual natural catastrophes is minimized. Of course, as I said, the program is fully aligned with that of the Haitian Government, and in the near term, we have had some very, very positive results. Because most of our agricultural programs were not in the zone that was affected by the earthquake, we were able to continue and to ramp up our activities. And the first harvest following the earthquake we had higher yields, and the more recent harvest that took place about a couple of months ago, we found that we had increased the yield on the various farms in the three different areas by 75 percent overall, including a 139 percent increase in sorghum and a 118 percent increase in corn. And we’ve been doing some rice trials, finding that when we plant the same variety of the plant in a different manner than the traditional one, we’re able to get 150 to 190 percent higher increase.
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The increases were possible – and just simply put – because of all the work we’ve done in environmental management. Haiti has massive environmental degradation. I don’t need to tell you that; if you fly over it, you can see it. And much of the work that we’ve been doing and will continue to do is devoted to arresting or correcting this. Get the greenery back on the mountainsides, tell the farmers how to plant to protect the mountains and the watersheds from further degradation, increase yield, come up with better ways of marketing what it is that you’re doing, and just strengthen the market so that more money ends up in the hands of farmers and their contribution to the GDP, which is now somewhere in the range of 20 percent, can increase to reflect the fact that over 60 percent of the population is involved in agricultural production. I think I’ll leave it at that.
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MR. TONER: Very good. Thank you, Carleene. And, Jonathan, I don’t know if you want to add some insights.
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MR. DWORKEN: Thanks. I’ll give a very brief overview of how our emergency food aid evolved over time, because I think that USAID’s emergency food aid response to the Haitian earthquake was not just fast and flexible, but really reflects the way we’re increasing our capabilities and respond to these types of disasters. After the earthquake, we worked quickly to scale up food aid distributions – initially to three million and eventually four million people affected by the earthquake – by diverting food aid that was already on the ground for ongoing programs, dispatching food aid commodities from USAID’s prepositioning stocks in Texas, and actually purchasing U.S. commercial rice that was already in Haiti, and so we can make that available for distributions. But then as the situation stabilized and our assistance evolved to respond to the changing needs in the environment, first, we transitioned from blanket food distributions to more target assistance, focusing, for example, on children under five, pregnant women and schoolchildren. And then as food became available in the markets, we provided food vouchers and actually instituted cash-for-work programs. The – what’s underlying this approach is that by undertaking these programs, we’re able to not just help Haitian families meet their food needs, but also support the recovery of local markets. And I’ll leave it at that.
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MR. TONER: Thanks very much, Jonathan. I believe we’re ready now to move into the Q&A period. I just would ask that, before we do that, if you just could state your name and your media affiliation before you ask a question. Thank you. And a reminder also that this is all on the record. Thank you.
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OPERATOR: Thank you. At this time, we will begin a question-and-answer session. To ask a question, please press *1 on your touchtone phone, please un-mute the line, and record your first and last name. To withdraw the question, press *2. Once again, press *1 to ask a question.
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First question I have populated. I’ll just take a moment to listen to the name. Pascal Fletcher of Reuters, your line is open.
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QUESTION: Thank you. Good morning and thank you for taking my call. I’d like to ask a sort of – it’s a related but a slightly wider question. As we approach the anniversary, it’s raining story pitches in newsrooms and we’re hearing a lot of statistics being reeled off. But you’ve probably also seen some comments from on-the-ground humanitarian actors like MSF and Oxfam in which they’re very critical of the international humanitarian response to Haiti over the last year – I mean, from MSF talking about where aid failed and a damning indictment of the international aid system, and Oxfam talking about a quagmire of indecision and delay. So if I may ask you, as also major players in the international operation, has aid, the international aid operation, failed Haiti over the last year? Is it – or is it just a question of perception? Has enough been done in terms of not just food security, but rubber removal, housing, resettlement? Isn’t it perhaps that – why hasn’t such a large, huge international aid operation not been able to do and achieve more on the ground over the year? I’d really be interested in hearing perhaps Ms. Dei’s response to that and maybe even Ambassador Haslach too if you’d be willing.
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AMBASSADOR HASLACH: I’m going to let Carleene – since she’s on the ground, actually, and she’s working on all the programs, not just the food programs.
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QUESTION: Thank you.
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MS. DEI: I think it’s a question of perception. I really do. And in fact, I think it’s a problem of misperception. We have spent a lot of money, as you know, and I think most of the statistics that you see indicate the level, the intensity of our emergency response to what everyone acknowledges has been the largest urban disaster ever in a country that started off at the bottom of the pile in every possible statistic, whether it be health, education, agriculture, infrastructure. You name it, Haiti is at the bottom of the list. And so the combination of the magnitude of the disaster and the poverty of the country took the country back to a level that is probably unimaginable. And the thought of it – the services, the arrangements, the institutions that would normally jump in and address a disaster of that magnitude simply weren’t available to Haiti. So when we say we think we did very, very well in our emergency response, we’re not exaggerating. We’re stating a fact. Another of the major issues is a lack of understanding of the flow of money. Most people – the donors all made pledges back in March, but a pledge is not a check. A pledge has to be turned into legislation. Legislation has to be turned into plans. Plans have to be vetted and approved. And money has to be made available. That supplemental money that everybody talks about, which is really the outcome of the pledge, is only just becoming available. And we cannot spend that money until we have plans for programs that we think are sustainable. That’s the bottom line. We cannot throw money at the problem. We have been planning and we have been doing very, very specific programmation – that’s why I talked to you about strategy – and procurement to make this happen. As I said, for the programs that were not disrupted, as in agriculture, we already have solid results on the ground. Same thing for health; very solid results. The work that we have done pre-earthquake was what allowed us to jump into the camps and to prevent major epidemics, cholera being the exception and cholera not having been produced by the earthquake. So I’ll leave it at that.
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QUESTION: Okay. Thank you.
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OPERATOR: Our next question comes from Mr. Edward Stannard, New Haven Register. Your line is open.
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QUESTION: Thank you. Ms. Dei, I would like to follow up when you were talking about money that had been pledged and not delivered. Apparently, the United States pledge of many millions of dollars did not arrive in Haiti. I’m not sure it’s arrived yet. Can you tell me whether it has and what you think about those kinds of delays that a country like the United States pledges large amounts of money and then it’s help up because of political issues or other reasons? And can you compare the life of the average Haitian now compared to just after the earthquake? Is it substantially better? I mean –
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AMBASSADOR HASLACH: Just before Carleene answers, I think it would be helpful if Jonathan, you also chimed in, because you need to differentiate between the immediate humanitarian response and the longer-term development assistance programs that have been planned. So I think it would be helpful to differentiate between those as well.
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MR. DWORKEN: Thanks very much. Let me assure you that all of the funds that we spoke about with regard to humanitarian assistance have been forthcoming. In fact, the way with regard to humanitarian assistance is there are contingency accounts in the U.S. Government. That money is spent right away when it’s needed, and then the supplemental reimburses the accounts. So for example, my office, the Office of Food For Peace, has provided over $188 million in food assistance, both in-kind food aid and cash for work and vouchers. And in fact, all of that money has been spent. I’ll let Ms. Dei address the development accounts. That is more complex.
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OPERATOR: Once again --
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QUESTION: Hello?
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OPERATOR: Go ahead. Go ahead, sir.
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MS. DEI: Let me just add to that. That was essentially what I said in my first response, that there is a difference between the emergency response money, which is – to date is well over a billion dollars, and the recovery money, which is the money that was promised in March. Legislation passed in the summer, June and July, programming submitted and approved by Congress. And it’s in our hands at this point in time and we are contracting for it. There is no political opposition, there is no other agenda. This is how money, taxpayer money, is given to us – through legislation, through vetting the planning, and through making it available. And all the other donors are going through more or less the same process. We have already delivered $125 million directly to the Haiti Reconstruction Fund. We have our ongoing programs that we spend. In agriculture, which is the topic of this conversation, we spent in 2010 $42.8 million on our ongoing agricultural programs. We plan and we will spend the supplemental money this year and next year.
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QUESTION: Can you respond to the question about the – how Haitians’ lives have improved or not in the – over the year in terms of food security and other things such as housing?
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MS. DEI: Well, of course it’s kind of difficult to give you a global overall answer. But from our point of view, there have been some improvements. For example, access to healthcare. One of the reasons that we’ve been able to get on top of the cholera epidemic fairly rapidly is the fact that in all of the camps that we’ve set up, we have provided clean water, chlorinated water, sanitation, and health units. When the cholera epidemic took place, one of the things we did immediately was to put up cholera treatment centers next to the health units. We just got a statistic in this week. Eighty-five percent of the people who use the health centers and camps are not living in the camps; they’re living in the neighborhoods surrounding the camps. And because, as I told you, Haiti had very, very poor health services prior to the earthquake, despite the fact that we had actually improved service delivery to cover about half of the country, many of the people who didn’t have those services now go into the camps to get services – to use the toilets, to get clean water, to use health care, and sometimes to send their kids to the public schools there. Now, I mean, this is not a pretty picture, I admit. But I think it reflects what we have been able to do and the effectiveness of it.
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MR. ANDERSON: This is Lars Andersen from USAID. If I could just remind everyone who called that there going to be other calls in the week on various issues, but if we could just focus on food security and agriculture for this call, thank you.
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AMBASSADOR HASLACH: Yeah, and if I could also just point out that Haiti also has received 35 million under the Global Agriculture and Food Security Trust Fund that’s being managed by the World Bank. The U.S. is a contributor, along with Canada and a number of other countries. And the goal of that program, again, is actually to raise the productivity of small-holder farmers, especially women, by improving their access to private ag services, inputs for crop reduction, et cetera. And that money is actually very, very soon to be released to the Government of Haiti. So that’s an additional 35 million.
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OPERATOR: Once again, if you’d like to ask a question, press *1. Ms. Jill Dougherty of CNN, your line is open.
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QUESTION: Yes, thank you. There were a lot of statistics, but I just wanted to see if we can get a little overall picture, and maybe you said it, but I missed it. The percentage of people who are now living on food aid, as opposed to the people can actually sustain themselves – do you have any statistics on that?
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MR. DWORKEN*: We can try to get back to you on that. We don’t have those statistics on distributions going on right now.
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QUESTION: Okay.
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MR. TONER: Yeah, you can – Mark here.
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QUESTION: Okay.
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MR. TONER: Jill – I’ll get you – just when – if we can get those statistics, I’ll relay them to you, Jill.
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QUESTION: All right. And also, maybe another question would be: Are there people who are actually starving or at the brink, not able to get food at this point in Haiti?
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MS. DEI: Yeah, our role on this and – is – we identify and target vulnerable populations. And vulnerable populations, for the most part, consist of people – women who are pregnant, women who are lactating, children under five, where you have – you will have problems in terms of development, mental and physical, if children remain chronically malnourished. So for the most part, we target our food aid while balancing to make sure that the negative impact on the farmers who are helping to produce more food is minimized. And we do this by nonstop monitoring.
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QUESTION: Okay. So does that mean that there are people who may be outside of a safety net? I’m not quite sure I follow.
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MS. DEI: No, the food distribution is not strictly limited to camps or to Port-au-Prince. The food programs are all over the country. And we know which parts of the country have the worst situation, vis-à-vis food availability, either because productions, crop yield levels, have gone down or just it’s an area that’s not so fertile or an area that is frequently met with disasters. And that’s where the food programs are concentrated. That’s the nature of food aid.
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OPERATOR: I have another question. Ezra Fieser, your line is open – from the Global Post Media.
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AMBASSADOR HASLACH: I’m going to have to sign off at 11:30, and so unless this question is for me, I’ll be signing off.
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OPERATOR: Ezra, your line is open. Please check the mute switch.
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QUESTION: Hi. The question is related to agriculture, and specifically about what’s being done to improve access to market and infrastructure in rural Haiti. And some of the farmers I’ve spoken with say that – identified that as one of the biggest problems, getting actually their products to market.
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And related to that, what are the plans in terms of decentralization of services as you ramp up the agriculture production in rural Haiti?
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AMBASSADOR HASLACH: Okay, I’m going to let Carleene answer that. And thank you very much. And if you have any specific questions with regard to Feed the Future, you can just channel them through our offices here. Thank you.
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MR. TONER: Thank you, Ambassador.
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MS. DEI: Yes, I totally agree with you that the issue of producing goods and getting them to market in a form that people will buy them is critical. Loss is sometimes -- averages high, between 30 to 50 percent, depending on where they’re coming from. And so a significant piece of our program is rural roads, feeder roads – leveling them, making them more accessible, and linking them up with the major highways. We do not invest in large highways. That is usually the World Bank, the European Union, and the Inter-American Bank. In other words, the multilateral donors specialize in the large-scale infrastructure. But since we work closer to the community level, we put a lot of money either through cash-for-work or simply by contracting them to building roads and to also improving irrigation, which is part of it, because with lack of irrigation you sometimes get more flooding. We also have mango post-harvest centers, which is where you go and the mangos are treated and are packaged and are shipped out, and we’re doing that with any of the other cash crops that we will be promoting, which include cocoa and also coffee and avocado.
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QUESTION: Just a follow-up on the idea of decentralization. I know it was talked about a lot after – in the months after the earthquake, but decentralizing services, is that that part of the plan as well, or to push for decentralization of services as you ramp up the agricultural production in the countryside?
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MS. DEI: I think as we mentioned before, we feature working with communities and with municipalities. This is particularly true if you’re going to have an effective environmental management program. People have to be convinced to plant a certain way, to not cut down trees to make charcoal. And it’s done by strengthening the ability of the local governments and also of the regional service delivery centers; in this case, the outposts of the Department of Agriculture. But decentralization, of course, is going to require the total buy-in and the support of the national government, and they are on record as stating that decentralization and strengthening the regional capitals or the services that are located at the regional and local level is part of their program. And we are supporting this.
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QUESTION: Thank you.
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MR. TONER: Mark here. Sorry to interrupt. I think we have time for just a couple more questions. I know there’s actually back-to-back briefings on another issue, the Secretary’s trip, so I know some of the reporters who are on this call may want to jump on that. So if we can just do two to three more questions, that would be terrific.
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OPERATOR: Mr. Fieser, are you finished with your question?
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QUESTION: Yes, thank you.
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OPERATOR: Thank you. Ingrid Arneson, Wall Street Journal, your line is open.
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QUESTION: Thank you. I’ve got a question regarding the private sector, the Haitian private sector, and how it is working, contributing to the effort to bring agriculture back up on the map in Haiti. And if you can gauge it and how it’s being structured into these plans.
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MS DEI: Well, I’m not quite sure of the question. Are you asking, is the private sector investing in agriculture, are they participating? The answer is yes. When we’re talking about mango production and the like, these are small and large actors involved, the farmers being the small actors, the people who are doing the processing and the sales, those are the larger actors. And sector development is not just agriculture; it’s kind of across the board. We’re promoting that in any way we possibly can.
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QUESTION: Thank you.
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OPERATOR: Once again, you may press *1 to ask a question.
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MR. ANDERSON: Okay, well, this is Lars Anderson from USAID. If there are no more questions, thank you, everyone, for participating. And keep in mind that we’ll be having two more calls on Monday, one on infrastructure and one on health. Those times are noon for infrastructure and 1 o'clock eastern for health on Monday. So thank you very much. Have a good day.

1/8/2011
Office of the Haiti Special Coordinator
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Even before the January 12, 2010 earthquake that devastated Haiti , its people faced malnutrition and food insecurity, and were extremely vulnerable to any natural disaster that disrupted their ability to sustainably grow crops. Haiti was the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and ranked 148 out of 179 on the UN Human Development Index. Eighty percent of the population was under the official poverty line and one Haitian child out of every four children was chronically undernourished. While 60 percent of Haitians worked in agriculture, more than 50 percent of the food consumed in Haiti is imported. Immediately following the earthquake, the U.S. government worked with the Government of Haiti and the international community to ensure that millions of Haitians received food and water.
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The U.S. Government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development, is working to reduce Haiti’s vulnerability to food crises and improve Haitians’ long-term health To date, USAID has provided $140.6 million in emergency food assistance through the World Food Program and Private Voluntary Organizations. USAID also provided partners with $47.5 million for food vouchers and short-term employment programs that will give households the ability to purchase food for their families and support the recovery of markets. Additionally, USAID is providing $35.5 million annually for longer term food assistance that targets very food insecure households with programs that increase their agricultural production and improve their health and nutrition.
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Our short- term interventions are working to keep Haitians healthy while we help Haiti improve its long-term food security. USAID’s emergency food relief reached 4 million people in the first three months after the earthquake, the largest ever urban food distribution. Targeted food aid is currently being distributed to approximately 1.6 million of Haiti’s most food-insecure, focusing on preventing malnutrition in children under two,; pregnant and lactating women; school children; orphans, HIV affected families and vulnerable people in institutions. Food vouchers are being provided to 20,000 food-insecure households and 140,000 people are receiving employment through short-term cash and food-for-work programs. Our long-term programs have been successful because of the interventions and farming techniques introduced through our programs last spring:
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Yields in three different areas of the country increased production by 75 percent overall, including a 139 percent increase for sorghum and a 118 percent increase for corn.
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Results from a rice cultivation trial in Haiti show yields that were on average 150-190 percent higher than the same varieties planted in a traditional manner.

"Agriculture is the lifeblood of this country. FAO will continue to work with the government so that Haitians have jobs, income and food for themselves and their families." FAO Director General, Jacques Diouf
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Helping Haiti's most vulnerable communities rebuild their livelihoods
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On 12 January 2010, a 7.3-magnitude earthquake hit Haiti leading to massive loss of life and causing unprecedented damage to urban and rural areas in the south and west of the country. Over half of the country's population lives in rural areas – between five and six million people – and the majority of these practice some form of farming or agricultural production. The agriculture sector is by far Haiti's biggest employer, accounting for about 26 percent of the country's economic output. Although the earthquake was by and large an urban tragedy, its impact resounded throughout the country, severely disrupting economic infrastructure in rural areas. Haiti is prone to natural disasters, being regularly hit by hurricanes and tropical storms, which compound the extremely high levels of poverty in the country. Over the last 15 years, Haiti has faced 15 disasters. Even before the earthquake, the country was in a state of protracted crisis, with undernourishment affecting over half the population. The country now faces three emergencies simultaneously: the aftermath of the earthquake; a cholera outbreak; and, since 5 November, Hurricane Tomas. While the hurricane's impact was less than originally foreseen, flooding and landslides have created additional humanitarian needs across the country, with the Centre, Northwest, North and Nippes departments experiencing severe agricultural losses.
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Immediately after the earthquake –on 15 January – the UN and its partners launched a Flash Appeal to rapidly respond to the devastation in Haiti. This was revised – on 18 February – to an amount of USD 1.4 billion, of which the agriculture sector accounted for USD 58.8 million. FAO appealed for USD 32.5 million and, as of today (Dec. 2010) has received USD 24.1 million. In response to the earthquake, FAO is helping affected rural people to rebuild their livelihoods and supporting the integration and resettlement of displaced populations. This involves emergency food security interventions, particularly focused on distributing inputs for the spring and summer planting seasons; carrying out assessments of the food security situation; coordinating agricultural interventions; and supporting national food security data management. By providing seeds, hand tools and fertilizers during spring and summer 2010 (April to October), FAO was able to help 204 501 families (about a million people) throughout the country. In urban areas, families have been provided with water pumps, seeds and fertilizers to start home vegetable gardens. Building the transition to development into its emergency programme, FAO has developed a three-year programme that involves: (i) coordination; (ii) supporting food security; and (iii) reducing the risk related to natural disasters.
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At present, FAO has over 20 international experts and more than 120 national technical and officers and personnel currently working through its Emergency Rehabilitation and Coordination Unit offices, which are spread throughout the country. FAO has led the Agriculture Cluster since a the week after the earthquake, providing technical advice and guidance to the over 200 organizations and institutions that participate in the Cluster and helping bring national and international NGOs in line with the Ministry and the Table Sectorielle in all technical and planning matters. FAO has also been helping the National Food Security Coordination to re-establish its agriculture and food security information network following the major damage sustained in the earthquake. This is being done through a project that aims to enhance food security, and the collection, analysis and management of related information. After the earthquake FAO and WFP carried out a Crop and Food Security Assessment. This highlighted a fall in the production of cereals (by 9 percent), pulses (by 20 percent), root crops (by 12 percent) and plantain (by 14 percent) in 2010. However, overall the food situation in Haiti improved between January and June 2010 thanks to food assistance, the resumption of agricultural activities helped by the distribution of seeds and tools, access to cash or food through cash- or food-for-work activities, and the recovery of the agricultural and non-agricultural food trade. [Please click here for further details of the assessment].
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Given the damage caused by the 12 January earthquake and owing to its proximity to the most important planting season of the year in Haiti (which provides 60 percent of the available food in the country), FAO adopted a blanket distribution strategy in the directly affected areas in Ouest and Sud-Est departments. During the spring and summer planting seasons (April to October), FAO has reached 204 501 households (approximately 1 million beneficiaries) throughout the country, both in rural and urban areas through seeds, tools and fertilizers distribution. FAO managed to assist farming families located in earthquake affected zones with the distribution of 1 254 tonnes of légumiseuses, 970 tonnes of cereals (maize and sorghum), 8.4 million roots and tubers for starch crop planting, 100 000 banana plants, 15.5 tonnes of vegetable seeds, 677 517 agricultural tools, 9 345 tonnes of fertilizer and 170 tonnes of compost. In addition, 17 000 households have been supported through FAO's urban agriculture interventions in Port-au-Prince, Carrefour, Gressier, Fonds-Parisien, Croix-des-Bouquettes and Léogâne. In these areas FAO has delivered 100 water pumps, 1 000 tonnees of fertilizers and almost 9 600 kg of vegetable seeds. After the earthquake, FAO developed a Contingency Plan for the 2010 Hurricane Season in order to assist the Government's emergency response to the impact of hurricanes in the agricultural sector. The plan focused on two main outputs: 1) the establishment of a communication and coordination network among all partners in the agriculture sector; and 2) the storage of 300 tonnes of beans and maize seeds along with over 80 000 tools in four strategic locations around the country. This strategy ensured appropriate coordination between partners on the response to hurricane Tomas and allowed FAO to support affected households in remote areas.
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The FAO team in Haiti, together with the Government and international agencies, has finalized the assessment of the impact of Hurricane Tomas on the agriculture sector. According to the assessment, Grand Anse, Nippe, Sud, Sud Est, Ouest (Leogane – Petit Goave) and North Ouest departments have experienced significant losses. FAO's response started immediately after the hurricane and included direct support to affected rural households, distribution of seeds and tools.Since the month of October, 2010, Haiti has been facing a severe outbreak of cholera, which has been made more complex by the ongoing humanitarian situation resulting from the earthquake. The humanitarian response was mobilized quickly after the first confirmed cases, and has been multi-sectoral involving Government institutions, UN agencies including FAO and non-governmental organizations. FAO is mobilizing financial and human resources to better respond to the disaster, including provision of messages on food safety and agriculture-cholera linkages.
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For the ongoing winter season (November-January), FAO is implementing interventions aimed at both providing immediate relief and longer-term rehabilitation and sustainability through distribution and multiplication of seeds, the implementation of sustainable watershed management, urban agriculture, agro-forestry activities, and the creation of employment in rural areas. The ongoing winter season constitutes a shift for FAO's intervention from direct input distribution to seed multiplication and other more sustainable and transition-oriented activities. As of the end of December 2010, 143 868 households (corresponding to 719 340 individuals) have been supported through vegetable production activities in urban and peri-urban areas, distribution of crop-seeds and watershed management interventions. Watershed management activities are currently ongoing to improve environmental conditions and livelihoods in selected watersheds. This assistance provides an immediate support to the affected population, while building the foundations for longer-term sustainable development. Those interventions are related to reforestation, sustainable agriculture development and watershed management and they all contribute to reduce the impact of future extreme weather conditions on highly sensible areas. The strategy for implementation focuses on opportunities for income generation through promoting High Intensity Labour Initiatives (HIMO), which is one of the priorities of the Haitian Government in assisting the population to restore their livelihoods. These activities are part of a joint UN Program

USAID/OFDA has long promoted analysis of the causes of seed insecurity to guide decisions regarding whether and how to provide agricultural inputs, such as seeds and tools, after a disaster. In the last decade, support to the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and non-governmental organization partners, including Catholic Relief Services, has yielded cutting-edge methodology development for seed system interventions and analyses. Immediately following the devastating earthquake in Haiti, many agencies feared that the damage that was so visible at the urban epicenter also extended to farming systems. Offers of seed aid began to flood into Haiti, with significant levels of assistance requested for the first and second agricultural seasons following the earthquake. The majority of early need estimates lacked support from credible assessment information and, as a result, risked overstating humanitarian requirements.
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The location and impact of the earthquake on urban populations underscored the need for an assessment of the necessity and effectiveness of large-scale seed distributions in rural areas. Through CIAT, USAID funded a Seed System Security Assessment (SSSA) in Haiti in May through June 2010 to examine the seed issue in detail and determine the potential impact of large-scale seed distributions on Haitian farmers. The SSSA also provided data that complemented ongoing development programs in the agriculture sector.
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The study indicated that, in the season immediately after the earthquake, farmers planted slightly less seed than normal; however, their reasons for doing so were numerous. The reduced planting resulted from financial constraints, land tenure concerns, routine health problems, and ongoing drought. Lack of available seed did not emerge as a cause of decreased sowing of land. In fact, farmers were able to access seeds from a variety of sources and, despite the sizeable influx of seed aid in Haiti after the earthquake, only 4 percent of all seeds planted were relief seeds. Overall, the assessment found acute seed security issues to be minimal, with the exception of those associated with the general drop in purchasing power. The results validated USAID’s decision not to support immediate seed distributions as an emergency agricultural response in Haiti, as they highlighted chronic problems inherent in the Haitian seed system and revealed that such issues predated the earthquake.
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As Haiti moves into the recovery stage, the SSSA recommends significant medium- to long-term investment in agricultural systems and can inform USAID and other development agency programs targeting longer-term agricultural support. The breadth of analysis and interview case numbers provides information pertinent to all seed practitioners in Haiti, not simply humanitarian organizations. In addition, having the analysis of markets and farmer seed systems at the ready enables USAID/OFDA and other humanitarian agencies to respond efficiently to future disasters in Haiti. When Hurricane Tomas passed over Haiti in November 2010, for example, the SSSA results were available to guide best practices in seed response, should such a response have been needed.

By Todd Carmichael
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This is the eigth part in a series of dispatches from Esquire's coffee correspondent.
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LA BALEINE, Haiti — You may laugh, but to some people in the coffee world, I am controversial. Strange, I know, but let me tell you: There are social consequences for refusing to approach coffee through the "sommelier" lens, by which one "Chemexes" or "Siphones" coffee samples before blogging, tweeting, slurping, and judging the work of hundreds of thousands of growers in the Third World. That said, every coffee hunt climaxes with a tasting, and my current search in Haiti is no exception. It may not be taking place in a coffee-tasting lab back home — we're in a cinderblock hut crammed with Haitian onlookers — but this is a "cupping" (that's the current jargon for this kind of uber-serious coffee tasting) nonetheless. And let me admit it here: For me, these things are packed with pressure. I understand there are more important things at issue in this place in the second year after disaster, but my heart pounds. Facing me is a lineup of five coffees grown in the mountains around us, the last one being Blue Forest — the high-altitude, semi-wild forest where I first made contact with the pickers. It's the one (although I am trying not to be biased) that has the best chance. Call me soft, but oh, how I dread this. I can't help but feel there is a certain Sophie's Choice to it all.
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If my hunch is right, the first four won't make it. Already Blue Forest is smoking the others in aroma — it's intoxicating. I can't believe my good fortune. When I taste the first four, however, they floor me, perfect in every way — world-class, potentially award-winning coffees. It's dumbfounding: All of them belong in the United Sates, every one of them, and yet there is no Haitian coffee to be had in the U.S. anywhere. With no advantage and every disadvantage, these people have produced astounding things. And then, I taste it: Blue Forest. I'm not the John Boehner type, but when the chills came over me the tears were not far. The words "holy crap" rang in my head. I once witnessed Alain Ducasse taste a bottle of 1982 Chateau Petrus, one of the best wines ever produced. I'll never forget how he described it. He calmly set the glass down, looked at me and said (translated from French), "Now then, that ... is good."
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That is precisely what I said in French/Creole after tasting Blue Forest — and I must say, in a place where people have little to be happy about, the room exploded with excitement. The entire place spilled out into the dirt street, and for the next hour, my back was slapped nearly black and blue. Negotiations were simple — I'd promised myself 40,000 kilos of coffee, so that would be the quantity. A representative named Brice calmed everyone down, then traced a number in the dirt with his finger — an extraordinarily high price that he put forth as a starting point. I looked at him for a time, then said, "Okay," and so proceeded another hour of backslapping. Tonight Brice killed his chicken for us to eat together. And now as I type this with my thumbs in the dark of his tiny house, having tasted some of the best beans of my life, I can admit that I don't really mind being controversial.
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Todd Carmichael is the co-founder of La Colombe Torrefaction and the first American to cross Antarctica to the South Pole alone on foot. Follow his progress via Geo Tracker/Google Earth.

Globe and Mail
By JESSICA LEEDER
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Instead of squatting over a small street-side fire cooking take-out food, Datilia Roland Doriela spends the day inside her tiny country house. At regular intervals, she crosses herself and says a prayer to God, hoping to persuade Him to put an end to the latest crisis plaguing central Haiti: fear of farming. The cholera epidemic that sickened more than 150,000 people and killed several thousand more has tapered off inside Haiti’s hospitals. But the effects of it are still playing out in L’Artibonite, the rich agricultural region at the centre of the country known as Haiti’s “rice basket.” Farmers and the labourers they rely on to harvest rice are refusing to go into the marsh-like paddies because they fear cholera will infect them. This is causing ripples across the country, from markets in Port-au-Prince, where there is less food available for purchase, to families in Haiti’s northern regions who travel south for farm jobs during harvest but are afraid to risk wading into the fields.
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In the Artibonite itself, nearly 90 per cent of respondents to a recent Haitian government survey said they have felt the effects of the link between water and cholera. Meat prices in local markets have tripled because people are afraid to eat fish from the river. Labourers willing to work in the fields are charging a premium, cutting into farmers’ already thin margins. “A lot of [farm] families are always just on the edge in terms of being able to provide for the family,” said Etienne Peterschmitt, the senior United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization official in Haiti, so any “little additional shock” to family incomes is forcefully felt. And with a shortage of people willing to harvest the crop, “what you have available now is not enough to feed everyone.” The farmers’ concerns about their fields are not unfounded. Because sanitation conditions are so poor in the rural region – the fields and canals people rely on for water double as latrines – it was among the first to be stricken by the cholera epidemic. “People were just terrorized,” Mr. Peterschmitt said. “People were really stressed about doing anything outside of their house, meaning shaking people’s hands, sharing plates, eating food outside, drinking water, washing.” The list also includes farming, because it is a mucky job in the Artibonite. Rice farmers plod about the paddies in bare feet. Water often splashes in their faces and mouths as they drag rakes beneath the water.
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“The only information we had was if we ever put our feet into the water, we’ll catch it and we’ll die,” said Dieufet Louis, a 49-year-old farm manager with seven children whose family has farmed rice for several generations. He was able to entice some labourers back to the field by giving them sneakers to wear, saving 10 per cent of the season’s rice crop. By then, much of the rest had started to rot. “Our life depends on the rice we harvest. Since we have no other option, we’ll have to start over again,” Mr. Louis said. “We’re kind of starting from scratch. There is no credit system and it’s going to take a long time to get to a point where it’s sustainable.” Rice growing has a troubled history in Haiti. A flood of cheap rice from the United States during the Clinton presidency nearly wiped out the sector. While imported rice remains cheaper than the locally grown variety, the earthquake recovery delivered a shot in the arm to efforts aimed at regenerating capacity. The realization that agriculture is important and worthy of investment was starting to take root when Hurricane Tomas flooded the area last summer. Then cholera struck.
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“It’s difficult to imagine a renaissance of agriculture in Haiti right now,” said Charlot Dioly, a 49-year-old farmer from the community of Grande Saline, one of the first hit with cholera. “It’s going to take longer.” Mr. Peterschmitt and his team have been doing what they can to help Haiti’s farmers by travelling to remote areas to spread cholera prevention messages. The team explains that cooking food well and washing hands with soap will help to keep people healthy. They also advocate better sanitation in the fields. So far, the message seems to be getting through. “I’ve seen more people than a few weeks back cultivating rice,” Mr. Peterschmitt said. “It doesn’t mean everybody’s back. It doesn’t mean it’s over.” The impact of the cholera scare will likely be felt throughout the coming year. Farmers who weren’t able to sell at market over the past few months will plant less this spring. Then when that crop is harvested, they will have less to sell.
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Ms. Doriela lost all of her livestock to either drowning or starvation, including 10 goats whose milk she sold to pay for her children’s school fees. No one will buy vegetables from her, nor will they buy the food she cooks on the street. Her family, she said, is down to eating one meal a day. “We’re making a lot of sacrifices as far as things to eat,” she said. Still, she has no plans to head back to the farm. “I think cholera is still present in the water, in the mud.”

3/2/2011
Huffington Post
By Eric Sorensen
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The many challenges that face Haiti and its people have been chronicled over the last year in newspapers and on television, in blog posts and radio reports. Haiti has been portrayed as a land devastated by a crippling mix of political instability, economic stagnation, and natural disaster. Its subtitle that's repeated in nearly every news report in the media -- "the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere" -- rings even truer now than it did during the first days of 2011. But after all the devastation wrought upon Haiti over the last year (decades, really), a country that was once the "Pearl of the Caribbean" stands at a crossroads of opportunity: continue it's stagnation, or show the world the power of Haitian ingenuity and the promise of a sustainable global future.
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Since the quake, billions of dollars have been pledged to the relief effort (important nuance: pledged) and Haiti, which has long been dubbed "a republic of NGOs," has experienced an influx of even more foreign aid organizations. Relief efforts -- which are absolutely essential -- are ongoing in Port-au-Prince's tent cities and the ramshackle camps that have sprouted along the shadeless hillsides outside the capital. However, over a year into the post-quake relief effort, too little foreign aid money has actually been delivered and too little attention is being paid to areas outside the quake's radius of destruction. Given the overcrowding in Port-au-Prince, and the almost complete lack of any growth industry in the city, the rebuilding of Haiti must be heavily focused on sustainable rural development. Economic revitalization efforts should be aimed at the environmentally devastated countryside to protect and rebuild the environment, and provide jobs that will discourage migration to city slums. And it is crucial that aid money be steered toward projects that clearly contribute to an environmentally sustainable future for Haiti.
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Haiti's tragic history of mismanagement and strife has had resulted in a poverty rate that climbs over 80 percent, while the land is over 98 percent deforested and the topsoil washes away to the sea. But Haiti's dismal industry and infrastructure might now be capitalized upon, if the monies that foreign governments and regular working Americans pledged are spent to put Haitians to work in jobs that exist in harmony with their struggling natural environment. In a country whose status quo has been ineffectual for so long, people are eager and willing to embrace new ideas that go beyond making baseballs. I've seen how adaptable the Haitian people are, and how hopeful they are for a future economy that might value the act of preserving the environment to grow food over its destruction for fuel.
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With the goal of sustainable agricultural development and job creation, in 2010 I co-founded a nonprofit called Carbon Roots International, which works with farmers a rural valley in the Haitian highlands called La Coupe. We are introducing biochar and other sustainable farming methods to help subsistence farmers increase their food harvest, revitalize their soils, stop deforestation, and combat climate change.
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Although those goals might sound like the stuff of fantasy, biochar has the potential to achieve huge improvements through modest means, using a little modern engineering paired with ancient practices. Biochar is essentially sustainably produced charcoal that is used as a soil amendment. Small-scale charcoal production has come at huge environmental costs in Haiti--there are virtually no forests left in the entire country. The widespread deforestation has had a domino effect: floods are more common, most of the topsoil and nutrients have been washed away, the climate has gotten hotter, and food production has cratered. Biochar presents a new and exciting way to sustainably rebuild Haiti, starting with the rural areas and food production. For a country starved of trees and not able to feed itself these are essential building blocks, upon which a national green economy might be formed. In Haiti, we are enabling farmers to turn agricultural waste into charcoal, and then educating them about the benefits of adding it to their soils. When charcoal that is made from waste is put in the ground, some amazing things happen: crop yields rise, the soil becomes fertile once again, water retention improves so less irrigation is needed, and carbon is sequestered in the ground. Ancient Amazonian civilizations knew this -- they were practicing biochar farming hundreds, even thousands, of years ago.
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The incredible thing about this is that it is carbon negative, meaning we can actually take carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases out of the atmosphere by enabling Haitian farmers to grow more food and rebuild their environment. If done on a large scale, across the developing world, biochar could help feed the hungry and provide income for many poor farmers, and help to significantly mitigate global warming. We at Carbon Roots International see great potential in this type of approach to development, and we're not alone. There are many organizations in Haiti that are finding new and creative ways to help rebuild a country in dire need of new and creative ideas. They are building composting toilets to use human waste in urban gardens, or developing clean energy stores that provide green products at local rates. We are all small organizations that are thinking big, envisioning a future Haiti that is economically and environmentally sustainable, and trying new approaches that foresee an economy that looks beyond the garment industry, or the tourism industry, or, yes, the baseball industry.

March 2011
USAID Frontlines
By Jayanthi Narain
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John Atis, the regional director for USAID's Watershed Initiative for National Natural Environmental Resources (WINNER) program in Kenscoff, Haiti, talks about cabbage grown at the Wynne Farm, a mountaintop training facility for farmers. In addition to the incredible human loss suffered on Jan. 12, 2010, the 7.0 earthquake that struck Port-au-Prince damaged critical infrastructure and caused $7.8 billion in damages and losses—equal to 120 percent of Haiti's 2009 GDP.
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Haitians are eager to rebuild and work toward a brighter future, and a year after the earthquake, USAID continues to provide support for much-needed basic services while helping the country embark on a plan of sustainable economic development. But with so much destruction to both infrastructure and human resources, it is critical that reconstruction efforts be carefully targeted, playing to Haiti's strengths and comparative advantages. The Agency's economic growth programs target sectors like agriculture and garment manufacturing. These programs are designed to facilitate trade, rebuild the private sector, increase incomes and living standards, create employment opportunities, and improve youth workforce skills.
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Earlier this year, USAID partnered with the non-profit organizations CHF and Citizen Network for Foreign Affairs, and agribusiness firm Jean-Maurice Buteau S.A. to strengthen local farmer associations and open two post-harvest mango centers in Cabaret and Saut d'Eau. Even though mangoes are one of Haiti's top export crops, farmers lose 30 percent to 40 percent of their post-harvest crop because of lack of training and infrastructure. Poorly packaged products can get bruised or spoil, and foreign importers must be able to verify the origin of the mangoes. At the two new centers, workers prepare mangoes and other produce for export, ensuring that the goods are packaged properly and meet the standards of foreign importers. In addition to creating jobs at the center itself, this public-private partnership—implemented by CHF International Haiti, a Maryland-based nonprofit organization and USAID partner—will increase production and incomes up to an estimated 20 percent for thousands of Haitian farmers.
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"We're proud to support farmers and help make their products available to more people, including buyers overseas," said USAID/Haiti Mission Director Carleene Dei. "These centers teach farmers how to better package and sell their produce, which will increase their marketability and raise incomes. The centers will help Haiti leverage its precious natural resources and help farmers realize their crops' full economic potential." USAID is also helping Haitian farmers by supporting the Coca-Cola Haiti Hope Project. The Agency is providing $1 million in funding for the public-private initiative to develop a sustainable mango industry, including the mango juice industry, in Haiti. With support from Coca-Cola, the U.S. government, the Inter-American Development Bank, and the Clinton Bush Haiti Foundation, the Haiti Hope Project focuses on improving local mango farming capacity to increase farmer incomes and stimulate economic growth and sustainable development.
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Another key U.S. public-private partnership focuses on the garment industry to create jobs in areas outside the crowded capital city. Along with the Haitian government and the Inter-American Development Bank, the United States recently signed an agreement to construct an industrial park in Haiti's north with South Korea's leading garment manufacturer, Sae-A Trading Co. Ltd, as the anchor tenant. Sae-A alone will bring an estimated 20,000 permanent jobs to the area, and total employment is projected at 65,000 permanent jobs once the park is fully developed.
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The U.S. Congress's passage of the Haiti Economic Lift Program (HELP) Act in May 2010 essentially promotes investment in Haiti and supports the rebuilding of the garment sector. By significantly increasing U.S. trade preferences for Haitian apparel, the HELP Act was a critical catalyst that, in turn, has made Haiti more attractive to large-scale manufacturing operations like Sae-A. As the first manufacturer to produce apparel with textiles made in Haiti, the Northern Industrial Park is expected to greatly increase garment production and volume of trade. USAID economic programs work hand-in-hand with training and education. Through facilities like the Port-au-Prince Haiti Apparel Center—a 6,000 square meter facility built to train more than 2,000 workers a year for the garment industry—USAID is helping to ensure that Haiti's youth have the technical training required for tomorrow's jobs.
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"Providing technical training in conjunction with job creation programs is a great way to prepare Haiti's youth for the economic opportunities that are growing as investment in Haiti increases," Dei said. Apart from training, technological innovation is also helping Haitians look to future economic security through increased financial services and access to savings. The Haiti Mobile Money Initiative, a partnership between USAID and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, has helped launch mobile money services in Haiti so millions of Haitians who use mobile phones can use pre-existing and readily available technology to send, receive, and store money safely, as well as to transact for basic goods.
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Making the most of simple technologies is also the basis for the USAID WINNER project, an agricultural program that operates on a similar principle of optimizing agricultural production through simple techniques and changes in planting and fertilization. In addition to infrastructure repair and reforestation activities, WINNER, which stands for Watershed Initiative for National Natural Environmental Resources, uses demonstration farms as training grounds. One technique imparted on WINNER's model farms is vertical agriculture, which allows farmers to grow more in a limited space, thereby discouraging the cultivation of lands that are unsuited for agricultural production such as steep slopes. In 2010, WINNER's work with the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture helped more than 10,500 small- and medium-sized farmers grow corn, sorghum, beans, potatoes, and other vegetables. WINNER-trained extension agents offered new techniques to the farmers, who planted over three-quarters of their land with local crop varieties. Overall, the campaign increased production by 75 percent. No single effort alone, no magic bullet, will result in a path out of poverty for Haiti. Instead, recovery will come as basic services continue to improve, providing the backbone for recovery, and smart economic investments allow the Haitian people to help themselves.

By IPS Correspondents
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Last year, tens of thousands of tonnes of tools, seeds and plant cuttings were distributed to almost 400,000 Haitian farming families, perhaps one-third to one-half of the country's farming population. The 20-million-dollar programme – spearheaded by the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), and carried out by the FAO and large international non-governmental organisations or "INGOs" like Oxfam, USAID, Catholic Relief Services, as well as the Ministry of Agriculture – was kicked into action in the weeks following the Jan. 12, 2010 earthquake. Warning of a looming "food crisis", the FAO and large INGOs urged funders to help them buy seed and tools to help the families hosting the over 500,000 refugees who had streamed out of the capital and other destroyed cities. "The logic behind [the distribution] is that in the zones directly affected by the earthquake and in the zones that received a great number of displaced people, the peasants were decapitalised," according to the FAO's Francesco Del Re. "It wasn't a general distribution. It was a well- targeted distribution, for the most vulnerable."
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Agribusiness behemoth Monsanto also offered 475 tonnes of hybrid maize and vegetable seeds to be distributed mostly by USAID's flagship agriculture programme, WINNER (Watershed Initiative for National Environmental Resources). (Despite repeated requests to WINNER, Haiti Grassroots Watch was denied an interview. It is unclear whether the entire 475 tonnes made it into Haiti, nor is it clear which communities received the seeds). Most actors agree that in the immediate aftermath of the earthquake, the emergency distributions had some beneficial aspects, but Haiti Grassroots Watch decided to take a closer look. During its three-month investigation, the Haiti Grassroots Watch partnership of community radio journalists and reporters from the Society for the Animation of Social Communications (SAKS) and the online news agency AlterPresse discovered environmental and health risks, failed harvests, the threat of dependency and other controversial aspects.
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The findings were released in a nine-part series on Mar. 30. They are available in full at http://www.haitigrassrootswatch.org. Contrary to the cries of alarm over "farmers eating their seed", a multi-agency seed security study shepherded by researcher Louise Sperling of the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) determined that "[u]nlike nearly everywhere else in the world, 'eating and selling one's seed' are not distress signals in Haiti: They are normal practices." The study said there was "no seed emergency" in Haiti and recommended, in June 2010, against distributions, saying that instead host families should have been given cash to buy local seed and take care of other urgent needs. Even though the seed study also warned that "one should never introduce varieties in an emergency context which have not been tested in the given agro-ecological site and under farmers' management conditions" - and in direct contradiction with Haitian law and international conventions which aim to protect the gene pool and the ecosystem in general - the Ministry of Agriculture approved Monsanto's donation of 475 tonnes of hybrid seed varieties.
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Although USAID/WINNER attempted to conceal its work behind contractual gag rules imposed on all staff, Haiti Grassroots Watch found out that at least 60 tonnes of Monsanto, Pioneer and other hybrid maize and vegetable seed varieties were distributed and were actively promoted. In an internal report leaked to the investigating team, USAID/WINNER staff wrote: "Despite a whole media campaign against hybrids under the cover of GMO/Agent Orange/Round Up, the seeds were used almost everywhere, the true message got through, although not at the level hoped for," and "[W]e are in the process of working as quickly as possible with farmers to increase as much as possible the use of hybrid seeds."
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At least some of the peasant farmer groups receiving Monsanto and other hybrid maize and other cereal seeds have little understanding of the implications of getting "hooked" on hybrid seeds, since most Haitian farmers select seeds from their own harvests. One of the USAID/WINNER trained extension agents told Haiti Grassroots Watch that in his region, farmers won't need to save seeds anymore: "They don't have to kill themselves like before. They can plant, harvest, sell or eat. They don't have to save seeds anymore because they know they will get seeds from the [WINNER-subsidised] store." When it was pointed out that WINNER's subsidies end when the project ends in four years, he had no logical response. At least some of the farmer groups interviewed also don't appear to understand the health and environmental risks involved with the fungicide- and herbicide-coated hybrids. In at least one location, farmers were planting seed without the use of recommended gloves, masks and other protections, and – until Haiti Grassroots Watch intervened – they were planning to grind up the toxic seed to use as chicken feed.
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Even though most of the internally displaced people -66 percent - had returned to cities by mid-June, seed distributions continued throughout 2010 and into 2011. When CIAT researcher Sperling learned of this, she told Haiti Grassroots Watch, "Direct seed aid – when not needed , and given repetitively – does real harm. It undermines local systems, creates dependencies and stifles real commercial sector development." She added that some humanitarian actors "seem to see delivering seed aid as easy and they welcome the overhead (money) – even if their actions may hurt poor farmers." In at least several places around the country, donated seeds produced no or little yield. "What I would like to tell the NGOs it that, just because we are the poorest country doesn't mean they should give us whatever, whenever," disgruntled Bainet farmer Jean Robert Cadichon told Haiti Grassroots Watch. While projects attempting to improve Haiti's seed system have been ongoing for at least the last few years, to date the Ministry of Agriculture's National Seed Service (SNS) consists of only two staffers. Most seed improvement projects, and the repeated seed distributions - which started after Haiti's hurricane disasters in 2008 - are funded principally through, and carried out by, the FAO and INGOs rather than the Ministry of Agriculture. SNS Director Emmanuel Prophete told Haiti Grassroots Watch that when peasants get improved seed varieties, production rises, but it also creates dependency.
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"The system is based on a subsidy," Prophete said. "You have to ask yourself about the sustainability because if the policy changes one day, where will peasants get seeds?... We'll get to a point where, one day, we have a lot of seeds, and then suddenly, when all the NGOs are gone, we won't have any." *To read the multi-article series in English and French, to watch an accompanying video or listen to the audio programme in Haitian Creole, visit http://www.haitigrassrootswatch.org. The Haiti Grassroots Watch (Ayiti Kale Je) is a partnership of community radio journalists and reporters from the Society for the Animation of Social Communications (SAKS) and the AlterPresse online news agency.

By Trenton Daniel
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PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — Marie Bolivar, a gray-haired woman with a raspy voice, crushes peanuts into paste for sandwiches which she sells by the roadside for 12 cents apiece. These days the paste is thinner, because the price of peanuts has jumped by 80 percent. But Bolivar, 60, says she still has trouble feeding her four children and paying the rent. "I can't survive like this," she said on a recent afternoon as she piled freshly crushed peanuts on a small plastic tray. In this April 21, 2011 photo, women cook while another buys items at the La Saline Market in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Soaring food prices aren't new in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and heavily dependent on imports. In 2011, prices are on the rise again, mirroring global trends, and the cost of gasoline has doubled to $5 a gallon. Haitians are paying more for basic staples than much of Latin America and the Caribbean, an Associated Press survey finds.
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Soaring food prices aren't new in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and heavily dependent on imports. Now those prices are rising again, mirroring global trends, while the cost of gasoline has doubled to $5 a gallon. Haitians are paying more for basic staples than much of Latin America and the Caribbean, an Associated Press survey finds. More than half of Haiti's 10 million people get by on less than $2 a day and hundreds of thousands are dependent on handouts. Undernourished children are easy to spot by the orange tinge in their hair. "Haitians have less room to increase their expenditures on their food," said Myrta Kaulard, Haiti's country director for the U.N. World Food Program. "This is a serious concern."
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Bolivar is one of many who cope as roadside vendors. They are getting squeezed from both ends — rising prices and customers with less to spend. It's ironic to hear Bolivar say "Everything was much easier a year ago," when a year ago Haiti had just endured a quake that killed 300,000 people and laid waste to large parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince. What she means is that food was much cheaper then because of the emergency supplies being rushed in. But as the aid operation scales back and the market reasserts itself, prices are soaring again. Last month a cab strike was called to protest rising gasoline prices, but it fizzled because drivers were so desperate for fares. One bit of good news has been the price of rice, Haiti's staple food. Pushed down by the free food being shipped in after the earthquake, it fell to $0.92 a kilogram in September, climbed to $1.38 in January and then began to fall, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization.
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But corn, which cost $0.68 a kilogram just before the quake, was almost double the price in March. Incomes haven't risen, however. The minimum wage is $5 a day but most Haitians don't have a job that would pay them that minimum. So, like Bolivar, they cope through "degaje," a Creole term that means "making do." It also depends where they shop. In a high-end grocery, a kilogram of white rice can cost as much as $3.03. But the street markets close after dusk, leaving customers dependent on supermarkets. Nature and the outside world have all taken their toll. Erosion, deforestation, flooding and tropical storms make farming difficult. American imports are stiff competition for farmers. Haiti imports nearly all of its food, including more than 80 percent of its rice, known here as "Miami Rice." A whole chicken costs $8 in Haiti — double the price in Peru. Argentines earn much more than Haitians, but pay less for a kilogram of rice.
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The rise of garment factories in the cities since the 1970s has denuded the countryside of working hands. Bolivar is among those who moved here. She lives in a small cinderblock home in a slum in the relatively affluent city of Petionville. "There was nothing for me in the countryside," she said. The winding down of quake aid is meant in part to encourage quake survivors to leave their camps and to stabilize market prices. Groups such as the WFP have launched cash-for-work programs, school meals to ensure attendance, and efforts to get aid workers to purchase goods locally. But for Bolivar, it's the cost of living that overshadows everything. She says she usually eats just once a day. One of her sons had to drop out of school because she owed $69 for two months of his tuition. A daughter helps out from her earnings as a waitress at a Lebanese restaurant popular among Haiti's moneyed class and foreign aid workers. Bolivar said she hopes things will get better under Michel Martelly, the musician elected as president on March 20. "We're waiting for all the promises he made," Bolivar said. "People want commercial activity. People want jobs. People want to eat."

BY TRENTON DANIEL
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Marie Bolivar, a gray-haired woman with a raspy voice, crushes peanuts into paste for sandwiches that she sells by the roadside for 12 cents apiece. These days the paste is thinner, because the price of peanuts has jumped by 80 percent. Bolivar, 60, says she has trouble feeding her four children and paying the rent. "I can't survive like this," she said on a recent afternoon as she piled freshly crushed peanuts on a small plastic tray. Soaring food prices aren't new in Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere and heavily dependent on imports. Now those prices are rising again, mirroring global trends, while the cost of gasoline has doubled to $5 a gallon. Haitians are paying more for basic staples than much of Latin America and the Caribbean, an Associated Press survey finds.
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More than half of Haiti's 10 million people get by on less than $2 a day, and hundreds of thousands are dependent on handouts. Undernourished children are easy to spot by the orange tinge in their hair. "Haitians have less room to increase their expenditures on their food," said Myrta Kaulard, Haiti's country director for the U.N. World Food Program. "This is a serious concern." Bolivar is one of many who cope as roadside vendors. They are getting squeezed from both ends--rising prices and customers with less to spend. It's ironic to hear Bolivar say, "Everything was much easier a year ago," when a year ago Haiti had just endured a quake that killed 300,000 people and laid waste to large parts of the capital, Port-au-Prince. What she means is that food was much cheaper then because of the emergency supplies being rushed in.
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But as the aid operation scales back and the market reasserts itself, prices are soaring again. Last month a cab strike was called to protest rising gasoline prices, but it fizzled because drivers were so desperate for fares. One bit of good news has been the price of rice, Haiti's staple food. Pushed down by the free food being shipped in after the earthquake, it fell to 92 cents a kilogram in September, climbed to $1.38 in January and then began to fall, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. But corn, which cost 68 cents a kilogram just before the quake, was almost double that price in March. And incomes haven't risen. The minimum wage is $5 a day, but most Haitians don't have a job that would pay them that minimum. So, like Bolivar, they cope through degaje, a Creole term that means "making do." Nature and the outside world have all taken their toll. Erosion, deforestation, flooding and tropical storms make farming difficult. American imports are stiff competition for farmers. Haiti imports nearly all of its food, including more than 80 percent of its rice, known here as "Miami Rice." A whole chicken costs $8 in Haiti--double the price in Peru. Argentines earn much more than Haitians, but pay less for a kilogram of rice.

The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), kicked-off Haiti's National Agriculture and Labor Day on May 1 by inaugurating a cutting-edge agricultural training center. The Sustainable Rural Development Center will help modernize Haiti's agricultural sector by training farmers to use innovative agriculture techniques that will increase crop yields and boost incomes. The five-hectare campus features a training center, warehouse, dormitory, three laboratories and a distance-learning facility. The dormitory will allow farmers from across the country, including the northern region, to benefit from the resources physically located at the Center, and an online video link with the University of Florida will connect them to the expertise of U.S. agronomists. Haitian farmers will learn how to analyze soil, identify pests and diagnose diseases that hamper crop production. They will also learn to use tools and techniques like drip irrigation and fertilizer briquettes that reduce costs and boost yields. Agriculture is central to the Haitian economy, generating nearly 25 percent of gross domestic product and employing more than 60 percent of the population, but declining crop production has plagued Haiti for the past 50 years. The Government of Haiti identified agriculture as a key sector to create jobs and boost the economy. The U.S. government responded by designating agriculture as one of the four areas targeted for earthquake reconstruction along with health, governance and infrastructure. Initially, public and private sector partners will manage the new center, including: USAID, the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture, the National School of Agronomy, local farmer associations, and representatives from Haitian agribusinesses. In the next few years, the U.S. government will transfer full management responsibilities to Haitian institutions.
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"Our support will help train thousands of farmers over the next few years," said USAID/Haiti Mission Director Carleene Dei. "Once the center is running smoothly, Haitian institutions will possess the knowledge and experience to manage the center without our assistance." The Sustainable Rural Development Center is one of eight agricultural training centers built with U.S. government funding in Haiti. The facilities are part of President Obama's global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, which is working to reduce global hunger and poverty by supporting country-led plans for agricultural development.

By SUMATHI REDDY
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Gabriel Kreuther, chef at Danny Meyer's Modern restaurant, sniffed and swirled and sipped. "This has a beautiful after taste, there is nothing that dries your mouth out," said the French chef. "It lingers nicely. It stays elegant. It's soft but expands in your mouth." This was no wine tasting. Mr. Kreuther was sampling Haitian Blue Forest coffee, which is making inroads into the U.S., hitting select cafes and restaurants. At Ai Fiori, Executive Chef Chris Jaeckle samples Haitian coffee imported by La Colombe Torrefaction. Once one of the largest coffee producers and exporters in the world, Haiti's long history of economic and political chaos, combined with deforestation, left the industry ailing. In recent years, coffee exports have been miniscule and declining, less than 0.008% of world exports, according to the International Coffee Organization.
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La Colombe Torrefaction, a coffee roaster with cafes in New York and Philadelphia, is hoping to change that, partnering with a cooperative in Haiti to put island brew back in U.S. cups again. Last week, members of La Colombe put Robinson Nelson, manager of a Haitian association of co-ops, on the restaurant circuit. They visited some of the city's top chefs and restaurants, from Jean-George to Michael White's Ai Fiori, to promote the coffee, a strong, heady brew best prepared with a French press and drunk sans sugar and milk. "The original strain of this coffee is almost extinct," explained Todd Carmichael, an owner of La Colombe. "But it survived in Haiti almost in a time capsule. This is like having a coffee from 300 years ago." Grown semi-wild in the mountain region of Thiotte, the Blue Forest coffee is an heirloom typica variety, according to Mr. Carmichael, unaltered from the original coffee beans in Ethiopia. Single-origin coffees have risen in popularity in the specialty-coffee market in recent years. Most come with the story behind a particular village or region. The coffee is often more expensive than blends. The new face of Haitian coffee, Mr. Nelson, a 34-four-year-old coffee grower, is a quiet, college-educated man who could have easily left the island. Instead, he returned to Thiotte, the region he is from, after his father passed away, to become a third-generation farmer.
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Now, he is manager of a Coopcab, a group that represents nine coffee cooperatives and about 5,500 farmers in Thiotte. Last week he visited New York for the first time. He listened intently, watching the reactions to the coffee his group produces. Coffee is poured during the tasting. "I knew the coffee from Coopcab was one of the finest in the world but now I have the validation of that because I see the reaction of everyone," said Mr. Nelson speaking in French, through a translator. According to Mr. Nelson, most of the coffee produced by Coopcab is currently sold to the Dominican Republic, where it's mixed with lesser-grade coffee. La Colombe bought 85,000 pounds of Blue Forest coffee beans in January, roasting and selling them at its cafes, in addition to selling to other restaurants and cafes. It already has bought 400,000 pounds for the next harvest. And La Colombe bought a coffee dryer from Brazil that will allow the Haitian cooperatives to boost production. The Blue Forest coffee is grown in high altitudes and under shade in a "wet" process that involves bathing the skins of the coffee beans in water to induce fermentation, said Mr. Carmichael. Production is primitive. No fertilizer is used and beans are hand-picked. "It's almost like the economic conditions of the island have made it so the coffee has been preserved," he said.
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La Colombe is in the process of helping Coopcab get certification from the Rainforest Alliance, and it is helping the cooperative reach out to coffee brokers and wholesalers to encourage further trade. Among La Colombe's customers is Building on Bond, a Boerum Hill shop that is selling the Blue Forest coffee by the cup and bag, going through about 40 pounds a week for the past six weeks. "The reaction has been great, both because of the quality of the coffee, as well as people's awareness of what's going on in Haiti," said Jared Lewis, an owner of the Brooklyn café.

By TRENTON DANIEL
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FURCY, Haiti -- Where the road gave way to trails, the hunger-hunters parked their motorcycle and hiked for more than an hour up a mountain too steep even for mules. There, in a foggy clearing high above the Haitian capital, the Baptist aid workers made their find. Two glassy-eyed boys stood beside a wood and mud hut. Their low weight made them look half their ages, but their hair, grey and patchy from lack of nutrition, gave them the appearance of old men. "They looked as though they were ready to die," said Hilaire Etienne, one of the aid workers. "They were merely bones and just skin on their bodies." Haiti has long struggled with malnutrition as a result of widespread poverty, a dearth of jobs and a feeble agricultural sector. UNICEF says malnutrition is responsible for about 60 percent of all deaths in people under 18 in the country. An estimated 30 percent of Haitian children are chronically malnourished, their growth often stunted. Health workers believe there are thousands of children like Jameson and David Paul, the starving brothers discovered in Furcy, who are slowly suffering out of sight of the massive humanitarian effort in the capital just 30 miles away. There's a little more hope for the Paul brothers now, due to the efforts of the Baptist Haiti Mission, which tracks down hungry children in remote areas of the country and feeds them. Etienne and his partner, Michel Raphael, earn about $75 a month trekking into the mountains and banana groves of Haiti with supplies of vitamins and vaccines and a portable scale to weigh children.
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In the Haitian countryside, children are seven times more likely to be malnourished than their counterparts in densely populated Port-au-Prince and other cities, said Mohamed Ayoya, UNICEF's chief of nutrition in Haiti. Such remote areas can be difficult to reach because many roads are damaged or dwellings are accessible only by foot, making food delivery a challenge. The 68-year-old Baptist Haiti Mission is one of Haiti's oldest charities, but it isn't alone in trying to reach poor people deep in the countryside. The U.S.-based Partners in Health has been working in the country's remote areas for years, as has UNICEF, which plans to send workers with the Haitian government later this month to the Grande Anse area, in the country's far west, to investigate a reported spike in malnutrition. Hunger also is an issue high on the agenda of newly elected President Michel Martelly, who has pledged to revitalize the country's farming sector, devastated by the effects of cheap food imports and deforestation. Much of the country's foliage has been destroyed by Haitians chopping down trees to make charcoal. Raphael said he welcomes the aid that has come to Haiti since the 2010 earthquake leveled the capital, but laments that he doesn't see much of it in the mountains.
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"When I think about how much money comes into the country, I realize that nothing ever comes to the peasants in my area," said Raphael, 35, who followed in his father's footsteps by becoming a health care worker. On the morning Raphael and Etienne found the Paul brothers, they had left the Baptist Haiti Mission at sunrise, wearing jackets against the chilly air and carrying chewable vaccinations for typhoid and tetanus. They brought their scale with them on house calls, and the villagers referred to them as "doctors," even though they aren't. The pair urged parents to bring their children to be weighed, but a few of the more agile tots scampered behind banana trees, fearful of vaccinations. The health workers nabbed one preschooler who squealed as Etienne hung him by his T-shirt from a hook at the end of a scale. He weighed about 20 pounds, far lighter than a normal child his age.
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An hour later, the aid workers found the Paul brothers - 6-year-old Jameson and David, 4. The brothers had the gray hair of village elders, and were being raised by their grandmother after their mother dropped them off and left. Etienne and Raphael gave them vitamins and potatoes that they had grown from their own gardens. "When I look at these kids and look at mine, it really hurts," said Raphael, a married father of two girls and a boy. The Pauls' grandmother, Sentina Estime, said they suffer from constant itching - a sign of malnutrition - as well as hunger. "They itch all the time," Estime said. "They need to go to see a doctor, but I can't bring them because I'm not in good health myself." Yes, Etienne and Raphael, agreed, they need to see a doctor. Meanwhile, the aid workers promised to return in a couple of weeks with more vitamins and potatoes. "We do what we can do," Etienne said. Malnutrition brings many complications. He packed his scale and vitamins and set off to look for more hungry children.

Huffington Post
By Uma Viswanathan
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In Cap Haitian, Haiti is bustling with everyday marketplace activity. To the left, men are hacking pieces of meat surrounded by flies. To the right, tables are littered with soap, deodorant, hair extensions, diapers, and safety pins. The center of the marketplace is a maze of women squatting under makeshift tents of old bed sheets and tarp, selling garlic, shelling beans, peeling carrots, sifting spinach. At their feet lie their discarded vegetable scraps, disregarded as they chatter away to each other. Hungry children wander around, pilfering whatever they can get their little hands on. It's business as usual. Follow a winding path to the back of the marketplace and you'll find a little revolution taking place in the area behind the charcoal merchants, enclosed by the bamboo fence. A white pickup truck pulls up, and a crew of 16 Haitian youth descends, wearing crisp collared shirts and gloves. A few little children hang about, studying the activity. An old man stops by, curious, and peers in. When he sees the site and the young people running it, his face lights up, "This is exactly what we need here," he says. "How can I help?"
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The youth are lugging heavy wheelbarrows and giant garbage bags filled with rotting organic waste that will become the nourishing black compost so desperately needed to bring life back into the Haitian soil destroyed by years of deforestation, erosion and chemical fertilizers. Thirty-six giant bamboo "Barbie" boxes (nicknamed because of the fluorescent pink string that ties the bamboo together) are filled with piles of organic waste in various stages of composting. The heap near the entrance has turned almost entirely into a nutrient-rich black. I hop into the back of the truck and head off with Wilner and six others as they make the waste collection rounds. We first stop at a few participating restaurants. Heading through the back alleys into the kitchen, a cheerful woman stirring a giant pot nods her head towards an overflowing giant black garbage bag surrounded by flies. Three or four restaurants later, we hit a marketplace. The young crew descends, and immediately gets to work. Every few feet, one stops to gather vegetable scraps under the feet of a vendor. Bags fill up and are dumped in back of the pickup truck.
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Wilner shares with me as an older woman sweeps the bean pods from under her table to hand to him. "We attract a lot of attention because we're young, well dressed, and well mannered. We don't look like people who would collect trash," he says. "Some people are suspicious -- why would we want their trash? But we don't mind. Others are very curious as to why we're doing this and when they understand, they're inspired, and want to help us." We pass by two middle-aged merchants who gossip about me "the foreigner" as I walk by. They call out to me in Kreyol, "What are you doing here?" At first I walk by, then I turn back and respond in Kreyol, "I'm their teacher." Grinning, they respond, "You should be proud." And I am proud. These young men and women have just completed three months of intensive leadership training in community empowerment and sustainable development through the Nouvelle Vie Haiti program, a project of the International Association for Human Values. They were selected because of their capacity to innovate and inspire and their tireless dedication to volunteer service. They're helping Haiti battle the resignation -- reinforced time and again by failed leadership and broken trust -- that in Haiti, things can never change.
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The unique cornerstone of Nouvelle Vie Haiti is to shift the mindset of an entire generation. Wilner and the rest of his team are doing just that. They have learned that true leadership means taking responsibility for both oneself and one's community. These youth are pushing Haiti forward with local, sustainable solutions to key challenges they want to address in their communities -- like gender issues, trauma, environmental degradation, and lack of food. Nouvelle Vie Haiti co-creates low-resource solutions to help these youth leaders bring progress to Haiti from within, rather than wait for aid from without. It is short-sighted for the international community to swoop in with aid but forget that these young leaders are the future of Haiti. Only with dedicated attention to developing their frame of mind and capacity can this next generation change Haiti. Leaders like Elmane who, back at the Barbie boxes, is following the miraculous compost recipe. She shovels a layer of carbon-rich bagasse (dry brown waste) onto a heap of vegetable scraps in a newly constructed box. Patrick waters and turns the compost and steam rises as heat activates microorganisms that will transform the waste into nutritious soil. In the back corner grows the small vegetable nursery of swiss chard, beans, and tomatoes that Lesly tends to, shaded by palm leaves. Vines have been planted throughout to eventually cover the entire area with natural shade. Finishing up the waste pick up rounds, Wilner's crew heads back to the truck to deliver our yield to Elmane and her team. On our way out, a tiny girl toddles up to us with a shy grin on her face. She hands over two clammy fistfuls of orange peels. "Me, too," she says. We smile back at her and nod, then we move on. This project was funded by USAID's Office of Transition Initiatives (OTI).

By GIL SHEFLER
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IsraAid Tevel b’Tzedek unveiled a new program in Haiti on Tuesday, helping farmers in the impoverished Caribbean nation grow more plentiful produce using Israeli know-how. The project, called Haiti Grows, aims to help eliminate hunger and provide better incomes for rural Haitians by improving their crop cultivation practices. “Haiti Grows will build a holistic farmer support system at all levels of agricultural practice,” the relief group said. “Farmers will be trained to use technology such as drip irrigation, disease-resistant new vegetable varieties and appropriate agrochemicals, while stocks of these inputs are made available at local supply stores.” The opening ceremony of the project, based in Leoganne – just outside the capital, Port-au-Prince – was attended by Haitian President Michael Martelly. A world leader in agricultural technology, Israel has pioneered and exported methods such as drip irrigation and community ownership of expensive farming equipment around the world. IsraAid is one of several Jewish groups that have delivered aid to Haiti in the aftermath of January 2010’s devastating earthquake, which killed more than 200,000 people. At the time, Israel set up a temporary field hospital in the capital, treating thousands of patients. Other Jewish groups operating there include the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee and the American Jewish World Service. IsraAid is funded by a wide coalition that includes the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto, the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Chicago, and the American Jewish Committee.

12/24/2011
New York Times
By RANDAL C. ARCHIBOLD
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PAPAYE, Haiti — For months after the earthquake that struck the capital, Manel Laurore pulled shattered bodies from his neighbors’ homes, hunkered in fetid refugee camps and scrounged for food and water.
A Haitian girl helped cook in a village. Reviving rural Haiti would wean the country off an overreliance on imported food. Today, his main worries are when his bean, corn and plantain crops will come in. “I will never go back to Port-au-Prince,” said Mr. Laurore, 32, a former shopkeeper who was sifting soil to plant a tomato garden, referring to the capital. “It left a strong pain inside. Here the work is hard, but you live in total peace.” His work, on a 15-acre cooperative farm in Papaye, represents a small but promising success for an ambitious program being promoted by aid workers, government officials and international donors: saving the country by developing the countryside. When the earthquake leveled Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010, planners and visionaries here and abroad looked past the rubble and saw an opportunity to fix the structural problems that have kept Haiti stuck in poverty and instability. An idea that won early support was to shrink the overcrowded, underemployed, violence-ridden capital and revive the desiccated, disused farmland that had long been unable to feed the country.
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“Decentralization is a critical cornerstone supporting my vision for a new Haiti,” President Michel Martelly told potential investors last month. “We want to strengthen and empower our rural communities and create new ones.” But the vision has run up against Haitian reality: myriad economic and infrastructure deficiencies, the lack of credible opportunity in rural areas and the fading of international interest and funds. Reviving rural Haiti would wean the country off an overreliance on imported food while creating jobs in the countryside, helping to discourage mass migration to urban sinkholes like Port-au-Prince. Before the quake, nearly a quarter of the population lived in the capital, where two-thirds of the labor force had no formal jobs and overcrowding was considered a major contributor to the quake’s estimated death toll of 300,000. Tens of thousands of people fled Port-au-Prince for rural areas immediately after the quake, but most have since returned, American and Haitian government officials said, finding little opportunity and food to be scarce. “We need to reverse the trend of people in rural areas moving to the city,” said Ari Toubo Ibrahim, the Haiti representative for the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The organization says it believes that, with enough training and support, about a tenth of the 600,000 people still in earthquake camps could ultimately move to the countryside. New factories are also part of the plan. A South Korean-run industrial park in the north, partly financed by the United States, is expected to open next year, providing at least 20,000 jobs. But experts say agriculture is the nation’s biggest need. Farming has declined to 25 percent of the economy today from 40 percent a decade ago, making Haiti more dependent on imported food. Today, the government says, 52 percent of the food Haitians eat comes from abroad, compared with 20 percent a few decades ago. The decline in farming dates primarily to the mid-1980s, when the government encouraged urbanization, and it worsened under a trade embargo during political turmoil in the 1990s. When trade restrictions loosened, the market was flooded with cheap, foreign staples like American rice, Dominican poultry and milk, in powdered form, from as far away as Europe. A series of storms in 2008 further wiped out farms, and riots over the soaring cost of food, owing to fluctuations in the world market, led lawmakers to oust the prime minister.
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Recently, though, there have been signs of a potential turnaround. This month, the World Bank approved $50 million for agriculture projects. “When agriculture grows, gross domestic product grows,” said Diego Arias, an agriculture economist who analyzes Haiti at the World Bank. Signature Haitian products like mangoes, coffee and cocoa are getting a burst of overseas attention, and BioTek, a Florida company, is awaiting approval from the new government on a long-awaited public-private plan to revive Haiti’s last remaining sugar mill, in Léogâne, one of the areas hit hardest by the quake. Haitian specialty coffee is in demand in restaurants in New York, Miami and other American cities, and the Inter-American Development Bank, Nestlé and Colombia’s National Federation of Coffee Growers have announced a $3 million effort to help 10,000 coffee farmers replant trees on denuded hills and increase production for both home consumption and export. The American grocery chain Whole Foods has been selling a variety of mango indigenous to Haiti, and Lèt Agogo, a Haitian organization whose Haitian Creole name means Milk Aplenty, has stepped up a program to give cows and training to farmers and to process the milk into a sweetened drink that Haitian schoolchildren commonly consume. In places like Papaye, efforts are being made to increase farming. Taiwanese agronomists have expanded a program to help rice farmers increase their yields, though imported rice, much of it from the United States, is still far cheaper in markets than Haitian-grown rice. But the challenges are staggering, and most concern money. Irrigation is lacking, and poorly constructed ports and roads disrupt the delivery of produce to domestic and international markets. Government efforts ground to a virtual halt for months last year after a political crisis swirled around a botched election. Foreign aid has slowed to a trickle. Only 43 percent of the $4.59 billion promised has been received and disbursed, according to the United Nations.
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The Interim Haiti Recovery Commission, the body created to coordinate and prioritize aid, closed in October when its mandate expired, with little sign that it will be renewed. The panel, led by former President Bill Clinton, was set up to provide some assurance to international donors, wary of channeling aid to a historically corrupt Haitian government, that their money would be well spent. Its departure raises questions about whether the remaining pledges will ever be fulfilled. Haiti’s five-year agriculture plan developed after the quake has received only about half of its nearly $800 million budget. Haitian officials say the government actually needs $1 billion to $2 billion to carry out the plan. The new agriculture minister, Hébert Docteur, said he hoped to carry out the program with whatever resources he had to help struggling farmers. “Too often they are trying with hand tools to get something from the land, but it is not nearly enough,” he said. The United States has opened several training centers that aim to instruct hundreds of farmers in rudimentary practices often taken for granted in other countries. Wansy Jean Poix, 36, a sorghum and corn farmer in La Tramblay, near Port-au-Prince, said he was accustomed to planting by simply tossing seeds on a large patch of ground. Now he plants in rows, to maximize the use of the land. “We increased production so there is more for ourselves and to sell on market,” he said. The experimental farm in Papaye, three hours from the capital, at once demonstrates the promise and the pitfalls that face the effort to expand farming beyond the hardiest takers. The village was created last summer by Mouvman Peyizan Papay, one of the country’s largest peasant organizations, working with the Presbyterian and Unitarian Universalist Churches in the United States and other organizations. Together, they plan to build four more such farms in the central region. The 10 families here grow their own food and have begun planting crops like corn and plantains to sell. Though the houses lack electricity, they are roomier than those many of them left in Port-au-Prince. But the project has relied on substantial help to get off the ground. The total cost for the five villages will be $1.6 million, almost all of it from churches and nongovernmental organizations. The United Nations is studying the project, but it is unclear how well it could be duplicated. Similar villages have been proposed elsewhere, but beyond the money, city dwellers have to believe that it is worth the effort to move their families to spend hours in the hot sun, hoeing and planting. “If they have water, technical assistance and credit they can survive,” said Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, executive director of Mouvman Peyizan Papay. Emmanuel Jean Pierre, 30, already has found that subsistence farming is not enough for him and has set up a small side business charging cellphones in the village using a solar battery he acquired in Port-au-Prince. He complains of the back-breaking work and misses the energy of the city, the parties, the friends. But with work scarce there and his small grocery business destroyed in the quake, for now, he said, he will stick it out here. “If I saw a big change in economic opportunity in Port-au-Prince I would probably go back,” he said. “But I would rather stay here all my life.”

Jacob Kushner's reporting from Haiti was supported by a grant from the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting. It is presented here in cooperation with the International Consortium of Investigative
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After two years of frustratingly slow reconstruction of their earthquake-battered country, Haitians and Haitian-Americans contend they’ve been shunted aside as American firms soak up most of the work and money dedicated for the nation’s rebuilding effort. In the months following Haiti’s devastating January 2010 earthquake, the United States government spent $140 million on a food program that benefited U.S. farmers but has been blamed for hurting Haitian farmers. The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) sent 90,000 metric tons American of crops to Haiti as part of the Food for Progress and its related Food for Peace programs run by USAID and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The programs send abundant American crops to nations in need of emergency relief. That amounted to almost three quarters of the U.S. government aid to Haiti after the earthquake, according to documents obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by the Haiti Justice Alliance, a Minnesota-based advocacy organization. Critics said that sending American food aid to Haiti undermined thousands of Haitian growers who were already struggling against imports of cheaper rice and corn — staples of the Haitian diet. “If you look at the allocation of food aid after the earthquake, the fact that most of it is (Food for Progress) means that the priority for the U.S. government was exporting food from the U.S.,” said Nathan Yaffe, Board Member of the Haiti Justice Alliance. “The evidence suggests that U.S. foreign aid is structured around our economic needs rather than the humanitarian needs of people we’re supposed to be helping.”
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USAID officials said they had been spending about $35 million a year on food aid to Haiti, but the figure spiked to $140 million in 2010 because “of the hugely increased food needs that occurred directly after the earthquake,” said Adam Reinhart, agricultural and food security adviser at USAID.
Officials said the earthquake initially disrupted local markets and supply chains so drastically that importing in-kind food was a helpful early response. “Faced with the task of distributions to approximately three million people, we first were engaged in blanket food distributions. We then adapted and moved to a more targeted assistance,” said Adam Norikane, Food for Peace Officer at USAID.
But Chavannes Jean-Baptiste, Director of the Haitian farmers collective Peasant Movement of Papay, said the agency should have — could have — bought products from Haitian farmers. “After the earthquake, the country needed food to help the victims in some places. But it’s not really necessary to send to Haiti a lot of food from the United States,” Jean-Baptiste said. “We received too much food, when locally it was possible to find food to buy to help the people.”
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A 2009 study by the U.S. Government Accountability Office found it would cost the U.S. approximately the same to buy food for aid in Latin American countries. But the cost of switching to “local and regional procurement” in Haiti was highest of 15 countries studied. USAID officials point out that during the 12 months around the earthquake, the agency’s direct food aid represented only part of total U.S. agricultural and food aid programs to Haiti. In this same period, Haitians received $47 million in vouchers or cash to buy food locally — though many staple foods found in Haitian markets are also imported and are often cheaper than Haitian products. Today aid going to Haiti in the Food for Progress and Food for Peace programs supplements — it doesn’t replace — the diets of particularly vulnerable people such as children and pregnant and lactating women, U.S. officials said. “This is the poorest of poor who are getting this,” Reinhart said. USAID officials also said the amount of food sent to Haiti in this program equals a small fraction of the country’s total food imports. Just on rice, Haiti imports 26,000 metric tons each month, or 80 percent of the nation’s consumption.
Still, the agency acknowledged the danger that such food aid can pose to local agricultural markets. An April 2010 USAID briefing warned that “in the medium and long term, large volumes of food aid would affect production as they would lower prices and thus reduce local production incentives.” The same report said the impact of U.S. crops in Haitian markets just after the quake would be temporary.
Since then, Food for Progress spending in Haiti has returned to pre-quake levels.
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The U.S. government began purchasing American crops to export as food aid with the 1954 Agricultural Trade Development and Assistance Act, which aimed to expand U.S. markets. That act outlined minimum amounts the United States had to spend on the program each year regardless of humanitarian needs in other nations. Haiti Justice Alliance’s Yaffe said he believes this shows the U.S. government’s first priority was to recoup costs of the program, not to help foreigners in need. Experts who study Haitian agriculture say the food aid is just one way U.S. policies have undermined Haitian farmers.
In March, at a Foreign Relations Committee hearing, Former President Bill Clinton said it was a mistake to pressure Haiti into reducing tariffs on food imported from the United States, including rice. Clinton is now the U.N. Special Envoy to Haiti and has become a key figure in raising funds for Haiti’s post-earthquake recovery. “Since 1981, the United States has followed a policy, until the last year or so when we started rethinking it, that we rich countries that produce a lot of food should sell it to poor countries and relieve them of the burden of producing their own food, so, thank goodness, they can leap directly into the industrial era,” Clinton said. “It has not worked. It may have been good for some of my farmers in Arkansas, but it has not worked. In 1986, Congress also approved the Bumpers Amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act, which bars the government from helping farmers abroad increase the yields of crops that could compete with staple American exports. Critics like Jean-Baptiste say it’s the reason current USAID programming in Haiti focuses on developing export goods like mangos, cacao and coffee, but largely ignores staples like rice and corn.
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One important USAID program in Haiti does include some rice and corn growers. The $127 million Watershed Initiative for National Natural Environmental Resources hopes to boost Haitian agriculture through training, better seeds and the use of new fertilizers. USAID claims to have helped 9,700 farmers increase their output since the program began in 2009. Many Haitian farmers rejected the program, however, after they discovered that 475 tons of seeds were hybrids donated by Monsanto, the world’s largest developer of genetically modified seeds. Unlike traditional crops, hybrids do not produce new seeds that can be collected and planted the following growing season, meaning farmers in Haiti would need to begin purchasing the seeds from Monsanto or another company once donations stopped.
“In Haiti, people each year conserve their own feed for the next year. But USAID doesn’t want to promote this kind of agriculture,” Jean-Baptiste said.
Jacob Kushner is a journalist based in Haiti and the Dominican Republic. He has written for such media as the Associated Press, Newsweek, Global Post, the Florida Center for Investigative Reporting and the Nation Institute. See more of Kushner's work for the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting here.

Two years after the earthquake, many Haitian schools are serving their children with food grown locally. Knowing they have a buyer, farmers are motivated to produce more food. Knowing they'll get good food, kids are keen to go to school - where they get the nutrition they need, plus an education. It's the virtuous circle at the heart of the strategy by the government and WFP to make Haitians more food secure. Canada is one of WFP's main partners for the development of the school meals program in Haiti. In September 2010, Canada donated $20 million to the school meals program. The funds financed the purchase of food to be used in school kitchens in 2010 and 2011. Part of the donation was used to provide support for the development of Haiti's National School Meals Program. Money was also earmarked to purchase food locally, with the condition that the goods be procured from small-scale farmers. The World Food Program, working under the direction of Haitian authorities, believes that this is the most effective way to stimulate local economies. Developing links between farmers and schools encourages the development of competitive markets, supports productivity and increases the producer's revenues. To support that goal and to facilitate local purchases, WFP has put in place a series of measures. For example, the tender process was modified to allow small farmers associations to bid only for the quantities of food they can produce and training sessions were held to help farmers master every step of the tender process, from bidding to delivery. "This is one of the government's priorities", said Michel Chancy, Secretary of State of Haiti on livestock production. "In this way, school canteens also generate income. The volume of these purchases is still relatively low, but we have set the trend and are determined to continue this policy of local procurement". By 2030, the National School Meals Programme aims to reach every student with daily meals cooked with local ingredients. As part of the WFP's local purchases program, several thousand metric tons of rice and maize meal have been purchased from local producers since the earthquake. More than 800,000 bottles of milk purchased from small farmers have been distributed to schools in 2011. Over the next three years, WFP plans to buy four million additional bottles. (NOTE: the milk is purchased through a trust funded by the Brazilians) Farmers in the countryside may be reluctant to produce more because they know that their isolation often makes access to markets difficult", said Myrta Kaulard, WFP Representative in Haiti. On a recent visit to Haiti, George Stroumboulopoulos, WFP's Canadian Ambassador Against Hunger and his team visited a public school where children were just about to eat a hot meal. Every day across Haiti, WFP and its partners provide full meals to 1.1 million schoolchildren to school and ensuring they receive at least one nutritious meal every day. “I am really impressed with the WFP developing strong links between local farmers and schools in Haiti,” George said. “It is good to know that Canada is involved in not only getting kids free meals in class but also that the food is coming from Haiti itself and that support is invaluable,” he added.When George Stroumboulopoulos visited École Nationale de Tabarre, bags of rice produced in the South of Haiti and purchased with funds donated by Canada to be used in the school meals programme demonstrated how the Government's objective is already a reality in some of Haiti's schools.

Agriculture remains a key sector for Haiti, as half of its population lives in rural areas. Together with other donors, the IDB supports the Haitian government’s national agricultural plan, which seeks to address the sector’s structural problems. The IDB’s sector knowledge and experience from before the earthquake define its comparative strength and to make the sector a continued priority over the next four years. At present, the IDB’s agricultural portfolio in Haiti consists of projects totaling $200 million, substantially focused on some of the country’s principal growing areas in the Artibonite and Northern regions. They include investments in infrastructure for irrigation and flood protection, subsidies to promote technology transfers and sustainable farming practices, the improvement of agricultural services such as animal and plant health controls, and supporting measures to regularize land tenure. Since the earthquake the IDB’s MIF has also sought innovative ways to enhance agricultural production and incomes. It has established significant partnerships to support projects in two major rural value chains: mangoes and coffee. In the first case it partnered with The Coca Cola Company, USAID and the NGO TechnoServe to train some 25,000 farmers with the goal of doubling their incomes from mangoes. In the case of coffee, the MIF is backing a project with French development agency AFD, Nestle, Agronomists and Veterinarians without Borders and the Colombian coffee growers’ federation to restore Haiti as a premium producer and exporter.
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In the Artibonite river valley, Haiti’s principal agricultural region, the IDB has long supported a program to boost the output of staples such as rice, as well as high-value vegetables. Most investments have been aimed at protecting, rehabilitating and expanding the region’s irrigation network, the largest in the country. As a result, over the past two years the irrigated area has increased by 5,000 hectares (12,500 acres) during the dry season and by 7,000 hectares (17,500 acres) during rainy season, allowing 10,000 more farmers to plant two crops a year. “In addition, repairs done to the riverbanks have ensured the protection of about 10,000 hectares (25,000 acres), or about one third of the Artibonite’s irrigated area,” said IDB rural development specialist Marion Le Pommellec, the program’s team leader. “Work currently underway to strengthen the Canneau dam will ensure the protection of the entire system.” Before the 2010 earthquake, the program financed the construction of an 86-meter (280-foot) bridge over the Salée floodway, which typically overflows every rainy season, cutting off some 40,000 people from the rest of the valley.
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The program also supported the rehabilitation of a rice processing plant, expanding its capacity fourfold. The plant provides selected seed to help local farmers improve yields. Applied research and technical assistance provided by the program, coupled with support from a technical mission from Taiwan, China to introduce more productive agricultural techniques, have shown that output can more than triple on experimental plots, depending on the rice variety grown and the inputs available. Decades of deforestation and soil degradation have ravaged the Ennery-Quinte watershed, but an IDB-financed agriculture intensification project is using several approaches to boost rural productivity in this river basin. One of the most promising techniques is the construction of micro dams, says Port-auPrince based rural development specialist Bruno Jacquet.
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Using large boulders and cement, the project builds small dams along the course of the ravines. During the rainy season, water accumulates behind the retention wall and sediment settles in to the riverbed. In less than a year, small patches of richer soil build up, allowing farmers to plant higher value cash crops such as beans, taro or plantains. As seasons pass, fertile areas continue to grow. Farmers can now use some of their additional income to plant live hedges and trees higher up the ravine sides, protecting their land. This technique, first tested in Haiti by French foreign aid experts, is being expanded under the IDB-backed project, which has already financed the construction of 26 micro dams along the Ennery-Quinte, out of a total of 150 planned. Given the quick returns and the positive environmental impacts of these investments (micro dams cost about $5,000 a piece) the IDB expects to replicate this experience in three other river basins where it is financing watershed management programs, Jacquet said. Other milestones of the Ennery-Quinte project are: the improvement of 50,000 mango trees by top-grafting; the construction of 400 cisterns to harvest rainwater; a successful pilot program to test vouchers for seeds, and the planting of more than 1 million fruit and lumber trees across the watershed.
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This reforestation effort must be reinforced with other measures concerning local governance, such as persuading farmers to tether their cows and goats to prevent them from eating the saplings, or to refrain from burning fields to clear land for planting. Jacquet notes this will require alternative methods, such as growing fodder to feed cattle or adopting mulch-based agriculture, which helps conserve the soil. As a mountainous country exposed to hurricanes and tropical storms, Haiti frequently suffers flash floods and mudslides. Guarding against such threats, which can take thousands of lives, the Haitian government finished installing in 2011 an early alert system covering 32 municipalities on 13 high-risk watersheds. The semi-automated network was part of a disaster preparedness project financed by the IDB. A network of 52 remote monitoring stations picks up data such as rainfall and river levels. When a flood stage is reached, electronic sensors transmit the information to a command center, which in turn relays the alert to different agencies involved in civil protection. Members of an inter-agency team can then sound alarms by activating any of the 47 sirens placed in high-risk populated areas. Sirens have three different sounds: one for practice drills, one for approaching storms, and one for floods. As part of the project, risk maps and evacuation plans were prepared for the 32 municipalities covered by the system, identifying the areas likely to be flooded and places where people can seek refuge. Local authorities and civil protection committees received training on how to respond to emergencies. While no floods triggered alarms during the 2011 hurricane season, the early alert system was used to warn people of two approaching tropical storms that eventually sideswiped Haiti, said IDB rural development specialist Gilles Damais. Sensors will be calibrated over time, based on the information generated by the monitoring equipment, eventually offering the option of automating the alarm system. At present, Damais added, international best practices recommend retaining an element of human decision in the process to ensure that other emergency response mechanisms are activated when the worst happens.

5/2/2012
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A $15 million grant from the Inter-American Development Bank will assist Haiti in its efforts to modernize its agricultural policies and institutions to increase farm productivity and competitiveness. The IDB resources will be complemented with a $7 million grant from the Haiti Reconstruction Fund. The program, the first of a series of three policy-based grants, will provide budget support as the Haitian government carries out reforms to address several of the major constraints hampering agriculture, which continues to play a dominant role in the country’s economy. Several donors, including the IDB, are providing financial and technical assistance for these reforms. Farming provides the principal means of subsistence for over 1 million Haitian families and generates about half of the country’s jobs. Agricultural productivity, which is lower than in other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, has declined over the past two decades, with significant output drops in key crops such as bananas, coffee and rice.
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Among the reforms Haiti will undertake is strengthening the Ministry of Agriculture (MARNDR) to carry out its planning, programming and budgeting functions, improve its capacity to manage, monitor and evaluate programs and increase the effectiveness of its services. Under this program the ministry will create a team of public procurement specialists to boost its capacity to absorb and administer financial resources provided by the government’s treasury and donors. This reform will enable the MARNDR to better execute programs under its management. At present, IDB grants are financing agriculture projects totaling more than $200 million in Haiti, including crop intensification, irrigation, rural value chains, farming technology transfers, land tenure clarification and watershed management. Another reform involves updating land administration policies and legal and institutional frameworks. About 60 percent of privately owned parcels lack property titles, a situation that limits long-term rural investment and farmers’ access to credit. Land titling in Haiti is costly and cumbersome and governed by antiquated laws and procedures. Under this program the government will promote legislation to enable surveyors and notaries to use modern technologies that could increase the efficiency of their services.
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Haiti will also promote new legislation to assign legal status to water user associations, enabling farmers to manage and maintain irrigation systems. Policies will be updated to ensure coordination between irrigation and watershed management. An inter-agency commission will monitor the management of the Péligre dam, seeking to balance the demands of hydro power generation with the need to provide water to irrigate the Artibonite valley, the country’s principal rice-growing region. In addition, Haiti needs to build up its agricultural health system to international standards in order to protect crops and livestock from domestic and exotic pests and diseases. The reforms will start by establishing an operational plan with specific targets and rationalizing the use of financial resources for such services.
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To expand access to improved farming technologies the reforms will promote the creation of a renewed agricultural research system capable of providing guidance to local rural producers. They will also expand gradually a system of smart subsidies, especially in the northern region where the IDB is concentrating investments, fostering the development of farming advisory services. The program was designed in coordination with other donors supporting Haiti’s efforts to improve agriculture, including the World Bank, IFAD, IICA, USAID, USDA, the European Union, France, Canada and Brazil.
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Haiti and the IDB: The Inter-American Development Bank is Haiti’s leading multilateral donor. Since the 2010 earthquake it has approved $534 million in new grants and disbursed $396 million for the Haitian government, supporting investments in agriculture, transportation, energy, water and sanitation, education and private sector development.

6/13/2012
World Food Programme
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PORT AU PRINCE – On her first trip to Haiti as the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, confirmed WFP’s commitment to support Haiti in finding sustainable solutions to hunger and malnutrition. During the three-day visit, Cousin met with President Michel Martelly. They resolved to work together to expand sustainable programmes, linking school feeding and education with reinforced local production. This commitment, which will reinvigorate the partnership with the Haitian government, was confirmed later with the Prime Minister, Laurent Lamothe, who agreed to launch two new programmes with WFP: the first, to increase the number of children WFP supports through its school meals programme; the second, to eradicate chronic malnutrition by targeting the most vulnerable Haitians – the poorest women and children.
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“I had a chance meet children who receive a hot meal at school each day, including milk that WFP buys from a local dairy. Working with the local community, we act as a catalyst to create market opportunities for Haiti’s smallholder farmers while ensuring poor children receive both nutritious food and an education,” said Cousin. Meeting also with the First Lady, Sophia Martelly, the Executive Director commended the work and vision of Aba Grangou, the national programme to fight hunger and malnutrition. Ahead of Rio +20, the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, both agreed on the value of true partnership, aligning UN programmes with those of the Government and creating a strong link with the private sector, building the resilience of the most vulnerable people. Too many Haitians remain food insecure and hungry. The most recent country-wide food security study – Enquête National de Sécurité Alimentaire (ENSA) – conducted by the Coordination Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire(CNSA), WFP and other partners, revealed that 38 percent of the population is food insecure – about 3.8 million people. Other recent data shows that chronic malnutrition affects 23 percent of children between 6-59 months and 4 percent of children suffer from global acute malnutrition, particularly in rural and remote areas of the country.
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A significant reduction in donor contributions threatens WFP’s ability to respond as needed to these persistent high-priority issues. WFP Haiti is at a critical point and requires US$54.6 million to keep programmes operating through the end of 2012. If new funds are not found, the budget shortfall will require a reduction in the number of children receiving school meals, from 1.1 million to 685,000. “I appeal to Haiti’s friends in the world to continue supporting the Government of Haiti and WFP’s efforts to provide sustainable solutions to fight the hunger and malnutrition targeted at the most food-insecure and vulnerable populations,” said Cousin. WFP is currently providing food assistance to 1.7 million people per month, including daily school meals for over a million children, nutrition programmes for children and mothers, and disaster preparedness and emergency response support to the Haitian government.
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For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):
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Alejandro Chicheri, WFP/Latin America and the Caribbean, Mob. +507 66715355 (in Haiti +509 37012336)
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Elio Rujano, WFP/Latin America and the Caribbean, Mob. +507 6677 0608
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Bettina Luescher, WFP/New York, Tel. +1 646 5566909, Mob. +1 646 8241112
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Rene McGuffin, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 6530010 ext. 1149, Mob. +1 202 4223383
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Emilia Casella, WFP/Rome HQ, Tel. +39 06 6513 3854, Mob. +39 347 9450634
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Caroline Hurford, WFP/London, Tel. +44 20 72409001, Mob. +44 7968 008474

A US$15 million grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is geared toward supporting for government efforts to clear obstacles to higher farming productivity. According to a statement from the IDB, the grant will assist Haiti in its efforts to modernize its agricultural policies and institutions to increase farm productivity and competitiveness. The IDB resources will be complemented with a US$7 million grant from the Haiti Reconstruction Fund. The programme is the first in a series of three policy-based grants that will provide budget support for the Haitian government’s reforms to address several of the major constraints hampering its agricultural sector, which continues to play a dominant role in the country’s economy.
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Farming provides the principal means of subsistence for over 1 million Haitian families and generates about half of the country’s jobs. Agricultural productivity in Haiti has dropped lower than in other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, has declined over the past two decades, with significant output drops in key crops such as bananas, coffee and rice. Several donors, including the IDB, are providing financial and technical assistance for these reforms. Among the reforms Haiti will undertake is strengthening the Ministry of Agriculture (MARNDR) to carry out its planning, programming and budgeting functions, improve its capacity to manage, monitor and evaluate programs and increase the effectiveness of its services. Under this program the ministry will create a team of public procurement specialists to boost its capacity to absorb and administer financial resources provided by the government’s treasury and donors. This reform will enable the MARNDR to better execute programs under its management. At present, IDB grants are financing agriculture projects totaling more than $200 million in Haiti, including crop intensification, irrigation, rural value chains, farming technology transfers, land tenure clarification and watershed management. Another reform involves updating land administration policies and legal and institutional frameworks. About 60 percent of privately owned parcels lack property titles, a situation that limits long-term rural investment and farmers’ access to credit. Land titling in Haiti is costly and cumbersome and governed by antiquated laws and procedures. Under this program the government will promote legislation to enable surveyors and notaries to use modern technologies that could increase the efficiency of their services.
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Haiti will also promote new legislation to assign legal status to water user associations, enabling farmers to manage and maintain irrigation systems. Policies will be updated to ensure coordination between irrigation and watershed management. An inter-agency commission will monitor the management of the Péligre dam, seeking to balance the demands of hydro power generation with the need to provide water to irrigate the Artibonite valley, the country’s principal rice-growing region. In addition, Haiti needs to build up its agricultural health system to international standards in order to protect crops and livestock from domestic and exotic pests and diseases. The reforms will start by establishing an operational plan with specific targets and rationalizing the use of financial resources for such services.
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To expand access to improved farming technologies the reforms will promote the creation of a renewed agricultural research system capable of providing guidance to local rural producers. They will also expand gradually a system of smart subsidies, especially in the northern region where the IDB is concentrating investments, fostering the development of farming advisory services. The program was designed in coordination with other donors supporting Haiti’s efforts to improve agriculture, including the World Bank, IFAD, IICA, USAID, USDA, the European Union, France, Canada and Brazil. The IDB is Haiti’s leading multilateral donor. Since the 2010 earthquake it has approved $534 million in new grants and disbursed $396 million for the Haitian government, supporting investments in agriculture, transportation, energy, water and sanitation, education and private sector development.

8/7/2012
US Department of State
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On Tuesday, August 7, 2012, Mr. Vernet Joseph, Secretary of State for Agriculture Renewal and Mr. Herbert Smith, USAID Acting Mission Director, attended the Riviere Blanche rehabilitated irrigation system inauguration ceremony in the town of Ti Slot-Ganthier. This ceremony marks the completion of bringing back more than 4,000 hectares of farmland into production. Built in the 1920s and lacking proper maintenance, the Rivière Blanche irrigation system used to operate at only 10% of its capacity. Working in partnership with the Ministry of Agriculture, through subcontractors, the farmland has been returned to its productive capacity. In 2011, the U.S. government, through the USAID WINNER project, helped the Ministry of Agriculture, the mayor and Ganthier area producers in rehabilitating the left bank irrigation system which brought back 1800 hectares to active use. With the rehabilitation of the Rivière Blanche right bank, seepage loss was reduced and the entire irrigation system is now functioning. In addition, with stabilized watersheds, the system is able to irrigate 2,500 hectares of land that will intensify agricultural production and improve living conditions in the Cul-de-Sac corridor. Feed the Future, formerly known as WINNER, is a multi-sectorial project receiving technical and financial assistance from the U.S. government, in order to work with the Haitian authorities to improve living conditions by modernizing agriculture in rural areas. Through agricultural intensification, rehabilitation of rural infrastructure, and better management of natural resources, this USAID project aims at improving the livelihoods of the beneficiary farmers.

8/30/2012
Caribbean Journal
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More than 81,000 hectares under cultivation in Haiti have reportedly been damaged by Tropical Storm Isaac, including bananas, coffee, avocado and citrus crops. That totaled approximately $242 million in damage to Haiti’s agriculture and agricultural infrastructure, according to data revealed during an Organization of American States meeting aimed at assessing the impact of the storm on the country. The meeting was convened by OAS Assistant Secretary General Albert Ramdin, who is the chairman of the organization’s Haiti Task Force. Ramdin was joined by representatives from groups including Pan American Health Organization, the Pan American Development Foundation, the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture and the International Monetary Fund. Several European representatives also attended. The meeting came after direct conversations between Ramdin and Haiti Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe.
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The government of the neighbouring Dominican Republic has begun to step up support for Haiti in the wake of the storm, which led to at least 24 deaths, according to Haiti’s Civil Protection office. Dominican representatives have sent mobile food units across the border aimed at providing “tens of thousands of people” with food. Ramdin expressed his condolences to Haiti for the loss of life, and urged progress on Haiti’s myriad tent camps, which continue to house an estimated 400,000 refugees from the 2010 earthquake. That echoed the recent call by Luca Dall’Oglio, the head of the International Organization for Migration’s Haiti mission. “The dismantling of tent cities is a priority. So far, the combined efforts of the government and international partners have led to a decrease in the number of people living in tents, from 1.5 million to 400,000, but there is still a long way to go,” he said. “International financial institutions in particular must continue to work with other stakeholders and the government to source support for this priority.”
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Ramdin did point to Haiti’s efforts to evacuate residents ahead of the storm, calling it the “first time an evacuation of this scale has been carried out, and so quickly.” “We must continue to provide support,” he said. “It’s a long-term commitment.” Further impacts from the storm included 1,105 homes destroyed, 1,144 homes flooded and 6,040 with damage, according Ronsard St Cyr, Haiti’s Minister of the Interior and Territorial Communities. The agricultural damage also included the loss of 4,000 heads of cattle, according to data from Lamothe’s office.

Clinton Foundation
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The Societe Genérale de Production Agroindustrielle (SOGEPA), an organic cocoa exporter, is located in the remote town of Dame-Marie, nine hours from Port-au-Prince along rugged roads. SOGEPA is firmly rooted in in the community, offering social and environmental benefits to its producers and local communities. SOGEPA’s success is contributing to better incomes and opportunities for cocoa farmers while increasing tree cover in a country with only one and a half percent of forest tracts remaining.
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Client Profile: SOGEPA -Founded in 2007, SOGEPA is based in southwest Haiti, a neglected area with few roads and scant local infrastructure. SOGEPA sources from more than 450 cocoa producers. In addition to paying premium prices, the company provides technical assistance to producer members throughout the production and harvesting processes. SOGEPA is committed to providing social and environmental benefits to the community. During Haiti’s post-earthquake cholera outbreak in 2010, SOGEPA helped build a medical center to house a full-time nurse who treated locals in the deeply affected area. Additionally, the company financed latrines in the region, which has reduced the incidence of cholera cases. By cultivating high quality shade-grown cocoa, SOGEPA is also helping farmers reap the economic benefits of specialty markets while preserving and growing Haiti’s forests. Last year, the company planted 10,000 trees to ensure sufficient forest cover for cocoa seedlings. SOGEPA offers a free environmental education program to Dame-Marie youth and plans to plant 100,000 trees by 2015. In 2011, Root Capital loaned SOGEPA $105,000. “After the 2010 earthquake, our financial capacity was severely affected,” says Patrick Jean Leger, SOGEPA’s director of administration and finance. “Thanks to Root Capital’s loan, we were able to salvage the situation and purchase about 110,000 pounds of cocoa while adhering to our philosophy of practicing fair trade.” With access to financial capital, SOGEPA has been able to purchase high-quality cocoa from farmers and grow its business, ensuring better livelihoods for hundreds of rural families in Haiti.

11/22/2012
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Visiting Haitian President Michel Joseph Martelly and FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva today appealed for increased investment in the country in order to build its long-term resilience. Graziano da Silva pledged FAO's support to Haiti through interventions that address both immediate crisis situations and the root causes of the island nation's food insecurity and poverty. The objective, he said, is "to make Haitians, especially farmers, more resilient to climate and other challenges. But there is only one way to achieve this," he stressed - through investment "If we don't invest today, we will pay the price tomorrow," the FAO head said. FAO and the government of Haiti are seeking $74 million over the next 12 months to help rehabilitate the country's agricultural sector in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Tropical Storm Isaac, and a drought that occurred earlier this year. Together, they caused colossal damage to Haiti's agriculture and fisheries; as of October, two million Haitians were facing food and nutrition insecurity.
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President Martelly said that during his one-to-one meeting with Graziano da Silva at FAO headquarters he expressed his thanks to FAO for the Organization's "great work" in his country. "It's a success story," he said. "We have suffered a lot but things are changing," Martelly declared, inviting potential investors and experts to come and see "the new Haiti". No country had ever pulled itself out of poverty through charity alone, he said. Investment was key in Haiti, a country where opportunities abounded both in agriculture and in other sectors, such as energy, he added. Laurent Thomas, FAO Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation, noted that "If we don't intervene quickly, over 60 percent of the population deriving their livelihood from agriculture will be put at risk." FAO and the government of Haiti are calling for funds to urgently help small farmers plant crops for next year's harvest. The country's next planting seasons starts in December.
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Hurricane Sandy was the third disaster to hit the country in the space of a few months. The combined impact on the agricultural sector, which accounts for 25 percent of Haiti's GDP and employs up to two thirds of its population, has been estimated at $254 million. The $74 million sought by Haiti's government and FAO for the agricultural sector would be used to rehabilite irrigation schemes and rural access roads; for the treatment of river banks and gullies and associated watershed management activities, including tree planting to prevent flooding; to rehabilite local seed production, provde seeds, fertilizer, and agricultural tools; for livestock vaccination and parasite control; to support to inland fisheries and protect the mangrove trees which shield Haiti's coastline; and undertake capacity development through training in disaster preparedness. Out of the $74 million called for, FAO has so far secured $2.7 million, with indications of a further $5-6 million that are in the pipeline from different donors. FAO will implement both short- and medium term projects in response to the current crisis, ranging from immediate relief activities to interventions that have a longer-term economic and environmental impact. Combining both economic and environmental activities will be key.
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FAO, in collaboration with Haiti's government, has been running interventions worth some $10 million dollars this year, including:
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assistance to farmers to resume crop and livestock production by providing high-yielding seeds and planting materials, tools and veterinary care, as well as training on improved agronomic techniques, animal husbandry and disaster preparedness;
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supporting small seed growers' associations in producing quality maize and bean seeds; reforestation, watershed improvement , building water storage facilities and training farmers in the sustainable use of land and water;
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urban agriculture projects providing city dwellers with fresh, affordable food. Vegetables can be grown in used tyres, or on trays or plastic containers which can be set up in small spaces on rooftops or in small courtyards.
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FAO has also assisted the government of Haiti in the preparation of its Agricultural Development Policy (2010-2025), a National Plan for Agricultural Investment (2010-2015) and a National Plan for Food and Nutritional Security (2010-2015).

As well as exporting cash crops such as coffee, cocoa, mangos, breadfruit and potatoes, Haitians rely on 40% of the food produced in the country for local consumption. With this in mind, it's easy to see why last year's dramatic weather patterns and global economic meltdown produced aftershocks as significant and devastating as those of the 2010 earthquake. In 2012, there were five events – separate, but intrinsically linked – that Haiti did not handle well, in my opinion. First, severe drought meant farmers failed to maintain a good harvest for the spring season from April to August, resulting in overall losses reaching staggering levels – 42-60% of Haiti's overall food production. Second, spiralling global food prices made it increasingly difficult for those still recovering from the myriad effects of the earthquake to buy basic foodstuffs. Third, hurricane Isaac hit Haiti in August, swiftly followed by hurricane Sandy in October and extreme flooding in the north of the country in November. These natural disasters not only wiped out swaths of crops and many farms but generated a loss of more than $250m (£159m), excluding the huge damage inflicted on infrastructure and livestock.
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In short, the overall combination of events in Haiti has created the perfect storm for a genuine food crisis. For example, in 2011, 8% of Haitians (about 800,000 people) were living with chronic malnutrition; now, that number has leapt to 1.52 million. This sharp increase is very worrying. Since October, there have been demonstrations against high living costs and some families have been forced to eat less. Instead of two meals a day, they now have one. Some cut trees for charcoal to sell to local businesses such as bakeries, while others migrate to cities and towns, as well as to the Dominican Republic or other islands. Sadly, I have heard stories of desperate families sending their children to work as domestic helpers – a job in which living conditions are notoriously bad. In certain areas, there have been some direct responses from NGOs and the government to help people access food and short-term jobs. The government directive to reduce the price of some basic foodstuffs such as rice is welcomed, even if, legally, they are supposed to supply their systems with local products.
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However, one of the biggest challenges for this year is to make sure that we help Haiti's farmers to sell their produce. The government and private businesses are taking far too much time to take the right decisions. A case in point: the Haitian government was meant to inject 5bn gourdes, the equivalent of more than $10m, into the agricultural sector following the storms at the end of last year but I have never seen any real plans – or any big rush – to make this happen. On the other hand, the UN's Food and Agriculture Organisation and the Haitian government set up a joint appeal to donors for more than $70m; by the end of December, they had received less than 5%. Another issue is that we don't have a seed bank in Haiti. Having one would change lives – it would mean there would always be a place for farmers to sell seeds while making them available for those who need them. Instead of importing all kind of goods, surely it would be better to invest in Haiti itself, at grassroots level. We could have strategic seed banks all around the country, with silos in communities and at family level, and we could advise investors to buy local produce in advance, to give farmers incentives. These investors could advertise local produce and sell it at a good price. It's a win-win.
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Finally, the Haitian government needs to realise that, although we have enough water for both agriculture and drinking, we desperately need to know how to manage this precious resource properly. We could have dams for irrigation and electricity, for example. These are all ideas for the future. Right now, though, if farmers don't receive appropriate support over the next few months in terms of seeds, livestock, fishing – and if agricultural infrastructure, such as irrigation canals and roads, aren't repaired – Haiti will miss the spring cultivation season. This can only make a bad situation worse. With global food prices set to remain high, Haiti desperately needs to address what is fast becoming a crisis. If this is not done, it could destabilise the already tense political situation and throw us all into yet another emergency, with programmes that simply cannot provide long-term solutions. Yes, we need to build Haiti back better – but to do this we need some medium- and long-term solutions, and a little more lateral thinking about how we can utilise the wonderful resources we already hav

2/28/2013
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In early 2013, USDA’s Economic Research Service hosted nine staff from Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture under the Cochran Fellowship Program. This visit was part of an ongoing Feed the Future program to strengthen the capacity of Haitian institutions to collect and analyze agricultural statistics and market information. The availability of accurate and timely data on agricultural production, trade and prices is critical to the efficient functioning of private markets and to the ability of government officials and international donors to get an accurate measure of Haiti’s food security situation and gauge the effectiveness of investments aimed at improving food availability and distribution. During their visit, members of the delegation were trained to use a model that will help policymakers examine the impact of potential new agricultural policies on Haiti’s long-term national food security. The delegation members also received training in market outlook analysis, enabling them to provide a short-term forecast of supply, demand and prices. The training focused on rice, which is a strategic commodity for Haiti’s food security. Members of the delegation traveled to Arkansas for a field visit with representatives of the U.S. rice industry, observing firsthand how USDA interacts with agribusinesses and how the private sector uses data and analysis from USDA to improve production. Additional Feed the Future training sessions for Haitian government officials are planned for 2013 and 2014.

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