IFAD provides grant of US$5.66 million for smallholder farmers in Haiti

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Rome, 04 February 2010 - The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) signed a grant agreement of US$5.66 million to support agricultural production in some of the poorest regions located in the North of Haiti.

The grant agreement was signed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, by Joanas Gué, Minister for Agriculture of the Republic of Haiti and the Director, Latin America and Caribbean Division of IFAD, Josefina Stubbs. The grant will supplement IFAD's ongoing project to increase agricultural production by modernizing irrigation infrastructure. Strengthening irrigation systems, including those reportedly damaged by the earthquake, will provide improved access to water resources for smallholder farmers.

"The key element of the agriculture plan of Haiti is to create economic opportunities for populations in the rural areas," said Gué, who will be arriving in Rome on February 12 to meet with the heads of the three Rome-based UN agencies - FAO, IFAD, WFP - to discuss Haiti's medium and long-term agricultural development, food security and nutrition planning process.

"Beginning in 2008, Haiti was hit by rising food prices and a disastrous hurricane season, and now the earthquake," said Josefina Stubbs, IFAD's Director for Latin America and the Caribbean. "IFAD has provided US$10.2 million over the last three planting seasons to boost agricultural production and support over 240,000 smallholders by providing agricultural input such as seeds and tools," Stubbs continued, "and IFAD will continue to support Haitians during this difficult time."

An IFAD team led by Stubbs has been consulting government ministers and officials, and IFAD staff in Haiti, as they assess the post-earthquake situation in the rural areas. According to the team on the ground, IFAD-funded projects in the country remain fully operational after the earthquake. Although the complete picture of the earthquake's full impact on agriculture and rural areas is still not available, there are reports of damage to storage facilities and some main routes to agricultural markets.

In addition, IFAD and its partners will ensure that previous investments and efforts are not lost. IFAD, together with the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), will extend the 2008 program, which was implemented after the soaring food prices, to meet the demand of seeds and tools for the March and July planting seasons. Based on preliminary estimates, this will reach approximately 23,000 rural households. The grant support will help another 18,000 households to increase food production.

Notes to Editors

In the days following the earthquake, there has been a reverse migration from the capital to the rural areas, putting further pressure on rural households and the availability of food in areas already grappling with meagre resources.

Evaluation of longer term recovery needs in all sectors will begin 8 February with a Post Disaster Needs Assessment conducted by a team including representatives from the EC, the World Bank, the Inter American Development Bank and UNDP. The findings and recommendations will be presented at the donor conference being planned for March in New York.

Since the beginning of its operations in Haiti in 1978, IFAD has approved loans totalling US$84.4 millions for eight programmes and projects with a total cost of US$153.1 millions. The Fund has supported the government in improving small-scale irrigation community-based approach, building the capacities of communities, promoting productive initiatives and providing poor rural people with access to financial services.

Press release No.: IFAD/04/2010

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) works with poor rural people to enable them to grow and sell more food, increase their incomes and determine the direction of their own lives. Since 1978, IFAD has invested over US$11 billion in grants and low-interest loans to developing countries, empowering some 350 million people to break out of poverty. IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialized UN agency based in Rome - the UN's food and agricultural hub. It is a unique partnership of 165 members from the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC), other developing countries and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).