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Haiti - Agriculture : The President Martelly at FAO Headquarters (Rome)
23/11/2012 08:26:25

Haiti - Agriculture : The President Martelly at FAO Headquarters (Rome)
Thursday, the last day of his European tour, President Michel Martelly met in Rome at the headquarters of the UN Food Organization (FAO), José Graziano da Silva, Director General of this organization. During this meeting, the President stressed the need for an emergency plan to deal with the damage caused by the passage of Isaac (August 2012) and Sandy (October 2012).

This approach was well received by Mr. da Silva, who has informed that FAO was working in order to respond, in a sustainable manner to the major climatic events affecting Haiti.

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.

President Martelly indicated during his one-to-one meeting with Graziano da Silva at FAO headquarters "We have suffered a lot but things are changing," 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."

Laurent Thomas, FAO Assistant Director-General for Technical Cooperation, noted that "If we don't intervene quickly, over 60% 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.

Sandy was the third climatic event to hit the country in the space of a few months. The combined impact on the agricultural sector, which accounts for 25% 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.

FAO, in collaboration with Haiti's government, has been running interventions worth some $10 million dollars this year, including :

  • 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;

  • 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;

  • 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.

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).

The Head of State thanked FAO for its support to Haiti and its involvement in food security. "Haiti must meet the challenge by putting the peasant classes at work and by repairing the damage, particularly in terms of livestock and agricultural production."

See also :

European tour of President Martelly :

HL/ HaitiLibre

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