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Haiti - Agriculture : Cholera Threatens Food Security in Haiti
29/12/2010 09:18:22

Haiti - Agriculture : Cholera Threatens Food Security in Haiti
Currently, FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) and its partners make an assessment of the impact of cholera on food security and livelihoods of rural people, led by the National Coordination for Food Security (Coordination Nationale de la Sécurité Alimentaire CNSA). 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.

According to preliminary results of FAO, the cholera epidemic raised fears that a significant portion of the rice crop in the northwest of Haiti are lost, many farmers avoid harvest rice fearing that the rivers and canals that irrigate rice fields and nearby fields are infected.

Some reports also state that consumers are hesitant or refuse to buy agricultural products from the areas directly affected by cholera, an aggravating factor for agricultural trade in the region. While stressing that lost crops affect food production and, consequently, food security and livelihoods of populations, FAO works closely with Haitian authorities and UN agencies specializing in health and hygiene public to provide to farmers the appropriate information on precautions to take in the fields.

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.

More sensitization designed to target rural low-income communities' needs to be done in person through hands on training and outreach. In collaboration with the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture and Health, FAO has launched an information campaign to educate farmers on issues of hygiene and sanitation.

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.

S/ HaitiLibre

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