Special Report Haiti February 2013
Harvest assessments by CNSA (the Office of the National Food Security Coordinator) and its partners put nationwide crop production for 2012 at approximately 50 percent of the yearly average due to a series of agroclimatological shocks. Since the source of seeds for the crop planting is generally from the previous harvest, farmers are currently having problems with limited seed availability and access, which could threaten the success of the spring growing season.
According to a 2010 study of Haiti’s seed system by its food security partners, 15 to 20 percent of the seeds used by farmers typically come from own crop production. Market purchases account for 75 percent. The remaining five to 10 percent are from other sources, such as input stores, gifts from close friends or relatives, and government and humanitarian seed aid programs. The seeds are used to produce staple food crops such as corn, beans, peas, rice, and sorghum. Generally classified as grains, they are produced in crop-growing areas. The main sources are vendor inventories or the reserves of wealthy households. Very few farmers have access to improved seeds, except for market gardeners buying certified and, in many cases, imported seeds. Small farmers normally buy seeds with income earned from the sale of livestock or paid labor.
After the previous poor harvest, food reserves are scarce and household supplies and market inventories of seeds are nonexistent or severely limited. Seasonality normally puts a strain on grain availability. However, even before the start of the spring season, bean and maize prices in certain areas have already been 30 to 50 percent higher than in February of last year. Poor households whose resources are already largely depleted have very little access to these food crops, which are also sources of seeds. Thus, with the steep decline in household purchasing power, there is a high risk of reduction in the size of planted area for crops for the spring growing season.