Low Donor Support For Haiti Farming Alarms UN Body

Only eight per cent of a $23 million appeal to help Haiti revive food production after a devastating earthquake has been funded, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said Feb. 12.

At a meeting of UN agencies in Rome also attended by Haiti’s agriculture minister one month after the earthquake, FAO director general Jacques Diouf warned that Haiti, already facing a major food crisis, lacked badly needed farm resources as the planting season approaches.

“The immediate priority is support for the farm season that begins in March and accounts for more than 60 per cent of food production,” he said.

The $23 million required to fund Haiti’s immediate agricultural needs are part of a UN “flash” – or emergency – appeal for $575 million to help rebuild the country.

“We are alarmed at the lack of support to the agricultural component of the Flash Appeal,” Diouf said.

FAO has already started to distribute seeds, fertilizers and tools to enable Haitian farmers to plant for the next harvest. Planted now, horticultural produce would be ready in only three months, Diouf said.

The three UN food agencies – FAO, the World Food Program and International Fund for Agriculture Development – set up a joint task force on Haiti’s food security, focusing on immediate needs but also on long-term rural development.

Almost 60 per cent of Haitians lived in rural areas before the Jan. 12 earthquake struck, killing 212,000 people, but the destruction of the capital Port-au-Prince has caused mass migration flows towards the countryside, the UN agencies said.

Eighty per cent of the population survived on less than $2 a day.

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