Thursday, February 18, 2010

No support for farmers

Haiti Faces Major Food Crisis as Planting Season Nears, UN Says

By Bill Varner

Feb. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Haiti faces a major food crisis due to a lack of
support for farmers who begin planting in March for a harvest that
usually produces 60 percent of the nation’s grains, fruits and
vegetables, the United Nations said.

“We are alarmed at the lack of support,” Jacques Diouf, director
general of the Food and Agricultural Organization said after meeting
today in Rome with Haitian Agriculture Minister Joanas Gue and heads of
the World Food Program and International Fund for Agricultural

The FAO has received only 8 percent of $23 million sought for seeds,
fertilizer and tools to enable farmers to plant their crops next month,
the agency said. At the same time, the UN has pledges for 95 percent of
the $575 million in aid requested after the Jan. 12 earthquake that
killed more than 200,000 people and left 1 million homeless.

Haitians consume about 1 million tons of cereals a year, 37 percent of
which are grown locally, the FAO said.

“The economic and social reconstruction of Haiti requires a revival of
food production and massive investment in rural areas,” Diouf said.

Margareta Wahlstrom, who is UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon’s special
representative for disaster risk reduction, expressed concern for
long-term reconstruction priorities. It will take at least a decade to
rebuild damaged schools, hospitals and infrastructure, she said.

“Haiti is in a vulnerable situation due to the upcoming rainy and
hurricane seasons,” Wahlstrom said. “There is great urgency now to give
particular attention to structural safety for temporary schools,
hospitals and camp settlements. Camps must be built in safe locations
with resistant materials and adequate drainage systems to be able to
withstand the next hurricane season.’

Wahlstrom said 10 percent of the estimated $10 billion reconstruction
effort should focus on reducing Haiti’s vulnerability to disasters,
including hurricanes.

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