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For several decades Haiti has faced significant food security and nutrition challenges. Chronically high levels of poverty coupled with soil erosion, declining agricultural productivity, and high population growth combine to make obtaining adequate food a daily struggle for many Haitians. It is estimated that in some departments of the country up to 30 percent of children suffer from chronic malnutrition. Although approximately 60 percent of Haitians work in agriculture, up to half of Haiti’s food is imported. In 2012, Tropical Storm Isaac, Hurricane Sandy, and a lingering drought exacerbated Haiti’s already precarious situation. As a result, 1.52 million Haitians—approximately 15 percent of the population—are now classified as severely food insecure.
Food security is a priority sector of U.S. Government development strategy in Haiti. The U. S. Government’s global Feed the Future initiative is supporting the Government of Haiti’s priorities and is working to ensure sustainable growth in the agricultural sector. The U.S. Government and its implementing partners are working as well as scientists to introduce Haitian farmers to new techniques and technologies, strengthen agricultural infrastructure along the entire value chain, and attract investments from private businesses. The overall aim is to increase crop yields and income for more than 100,000 farmer households. This investment will also help improve food security and boost nutrition for the general population. In addition, the U.S. Government is targeting pockets of chronic food insecurity through Title II-funded Mother and Child Health and Nutrition interventions, sustainable agriculture, and food voucher programming in particularly vulnerable regions of the country.
Storm and Drought Response
The cumulative effect of a prolonged drought, Tropical Storm Isaac, and Hurricane Sandy has caused huge losses in agricultural production throughout the country for most of 2012 and into 2013. The impact of these crop losses has been a prolonged “hunger season” this year in Haiti. The “hunger season” refers to the three-month period between rainy seasons during which time there is little crop harvesting and thus few farming employment opportunities. The most pressing challenges to help agricultural production get back on track have been repairing storm-related damage to infrastructure and assisting farmers to gear up for spring production. USAID also focused on reducing backsliding on household nutritional indicators by providing food assistance and additional health services to targeted populations to address the needs of the most vulnerable households.
The U.S. Government response to drought- and storm-generated food challenges has been to provide approximately $25 million for additional emergency resources for food-assisted Mother and Child Health and Nutrition activities, short-term employment, seeds, and the provision of food vouchers in the most food insecure parts of the country. An additional $1 million was allocated for shelter and seed provision in the south and southeast, and $8 million of Feed the Future West funding were reprogrammed to repair damaged irrigation canals and roads and provide seeds and other inputs to get farmers back in their fields north of Port-au-Prince in the Cul de Sac Plains.
Through USAID’s Multi-Year Assistance Program (MYAP), the U.S. Government has supported over 1.6 million people:
- Reached 149,200 Haitian families through the Mother and Child Health and Nutrition programs, which aim to prevent malnutrition in children under two years of age.
- 14,300 families participated in short-term employment projects focused on stabilizing watersheds through the establishment of soil and water conservation structures and improving farm-to-market roads.
- Provided 44,000 students in 131 schools with one hot meal a day through Food for Education activities.
- Provided technical assistance to improve home gardens, increase crop production using improved seeds, multiply seeds, establish seedling nurseries, plant trees, construct soil and water conservation structures, and strengthen the efficiency of irrigation systems.
- Provided high-yielding, drought-resistant, and short-cycle crop varieties to help farmers cope with changes in climate.
- Targeted fishermen, goat herders, artisans, poor farmers, and female headed households with training and other support to improved production, increased business know-how, and built market linkages.
Under the more recent emergency programs that are being implemented as a result of the drought and storms in 2012, approximately 700,000 individuals are benefiting either directly or indirectly from USAID’s Office of Food for Peace and Office of U.S. Foreign Disaster Assistance-supported activities:
- Provided 3,700 families with seed vouchers for jump-starting spring agricultural production.
- Assisted 90,000 food insecure families through the provision of emergency food vouchers and/or rations.
- Provided 18,000 food insecure households with 30-90 day emergency food rations.
USAID’s Feed the Future West program is promoting agricultural production, natural resource management, and a modern post-harvest and marketing system. Accomplishments include:
- Increased the total sales by farmers supported through Feed the Future West from $4.8 million to $12.2 million.
- Trained more than 1,200 people in natural resource management and/or biodiversity conservation, including soil conservation, tree nurseries, and hillside production in 2011. More than 4,000 additional hectares of farmland are now under improved natural resource management.
- Introduced improved seeds, fertilizer, and technologies to more than 13,000 farmers; these increased rice yields by 129 percent, corn yields by 341 percent, and bean yields by 100 percent, in early 2012.
- Enrolled nearly 13,000 farmers, more than 40 percent of whom are women, in the Haiti Hope project. This program is a partnership among USAID, The Coca-Cola Company, the Multilateral Investment Fund, and TechnoServe that aims to create opportunities for 25,000 Haitian mango farmers and their families.
- Graduated 858 people from a master farmers program during 2012; 27 percent of graduates were women.
- Increased the income of 5,000 cacao growers by a minimum of 25 percent through partnerships with private-sector entities to train farmers in cocoa production.
- Provided mobile collection centers, sorting tables, and 6,000 plastic crates for mango harvesting, increasing mango sales by three farmer associations to exporters by 25 percent.
- Increased economic benefits derived from sustainable natural resource management and conservation, benefitting nearly 1,200 people through ravine treatment, hillside rehabilitation, and improved technologies that have enhanced the quality of crop output.
- USAID Joins Forces With Heineken Subsidiary BRANA to Improve Haitian Farmers’ Livelihoods
- USAID Launches Five-Year Project to Boost Farmer Incomes and Promote Local Organizations in Northern Haiti
- Feed the Future North Fact Sheet
- Haiti's Greenhouse Revolution
- USAID Project Helps Farmers Cooperatives Crank Up Their Business
- Helping Haiti Recover Three Years Later
- Feed the Future Achieves Success in Horticulture
- Haitian Farmers Seeing Sprouts of Success
- USAID Eases Hardships of Haiti’s Earthquake Survivors
- Farmer Workshops Improve Lives
- Planting Seeds of Hope Brings Great Promise
- Beekeeping Industry Reinvigorated in Haiti
Last updated: November 06, 2013