Below is a brief article from the Economist on the relationship between food security and food imports. Both aid and trade policies have long subverted domestic agriculture in Haiti. President Martelly has set a target of meeting 60% of Haiti's food needs through domestic production within three years. This is a tough row to hoe as it requires better resource management, irrigation, reforestation, and natural disaster preparedness. Food security isn't just about rice though. Greater production of yams, sorghum, manioc, sweet potatos, and corn would help.
Plumpynut revolutionized the treatment of acutely malnourished children. In Haiti, Partners in Health (PIH) has produced a local variant, Nourimamba, since 2007. The Abbot pharmaceutical company is working closely with PIH to further improve Nourimamba and to expand production. The opening of a factory is scheduled for end 2012. This is good news for malnourished children, the health care providers who treat them, and the farmers who produce the ingredients for Nourimamba. An article by New York Times writer Duff Wilson on the PIH/Abbot partnership follows.
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.
It is Kanaval season in Haiti! This is not a time to dwell on one’s sorrows but a time to focus on living. It is a loud, vibrant, and wonderful time of the year. No matter how bad things get, Kanaval will always be for friendships, relationships, music, dancing, tradition (and drinking.) But as another proverb goes, after the dance the drum is heavy. When Kanaval is over, it’s back to work for all. Achieving food security is task #1.
Scott Schachter sent in the following blog about Doctors without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) - an independent, international medical humanitarian organization that delivers emergency aid in more than 60 countries including Haiti, where it has operated since 1991. Doctors Without Borders is actively involved in recovery operations in Gonaives. The organization is competing for one million dollars in the Trip Advisor Challenge. You can cast your vote by clicking here. Read on or visit the Doctors Without Borders Website to learn more.