PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti — The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations is calling for international donors to support a $700 million investment plan in the agricultural sector to repair earthquake damaged infrastructure, boost national food production, and create employment for people fleeing Port-au-Prince.
The plan was drawn up by the Haitian government.
The program, drawn up by the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, gives specific guidelines for international aid in the sector for the next eighteen months. It is one of the cornerstones of the government’s strategy to rebuild the country following the Jan. 12 earthquake.
The Food and Agriculture Organization and the Inter-American Institute for Agriculture Cooperation signed an agreement with the ministry to support the government plan.
“The food situation in Haiti was already very fragile before the earthquake and Haiti was highly dependent on food imports,” said Alexander Jones, a Food and Agriculture Organization emergencies response manager.
“With people moving back to the rural areas, growth in Haiti’s agricultural sector is now an urgent priority and the Haitian government’s plan does a very good job of laying down the immediate priorities.”
Almost 60 percent of Haitians lived in rural areas before the earthquake struck. Haiti’s rural areas are desperately poor with 80 percent of the population surviving on the edge of poverty with less than $2 a day.
The Haitian government estimates around $32 million is needed now to buy seeds, tools and fertilizers for farmers so that they can begin planting in March. The spring planting season usually accounts for 60 percent of Haiti’s agricultural production.
Other short-term actions include the repair of the quake-damaged Darbonne sugar refinery near Leogane, protection of watersheds, reforestation, the rebuilding and reinforcing of collapsed riverbanks, repairing damaged irrigation channels, and the rehabilitation of 600 kilometers of feeder roads.
The government has also recommended the acquisition of thousands of tons of cereal, pulses, vegetable seeds, tools, and fertilizers to the livestock sector for an 18-month period.
Other priorities include the re-launch of a program to encourage the planting of nutritious sweet potatoes in all 10 of Haiti’s administrative departments and the building of storage facilities to stock food and grain to prepare for the upcoming hurricane season.