IFAD USD 10 million rescue package for farmers in Haiti under FAO initiative for Soaring Food Prices

Rome, 27 October 2008 - Communities in Haiti suffering severe food insecurity are to be assisted by a US$10.2 million package which will quickly boost Haiti's battered agriculture sector.

The funds come at a time when Haiti is facing the double challenge of recovering from recent hurricanes, which the government estimates have caused at least US$500 million in losses, and feeding its people, many of whom were facing food shortages even before the storms struck.

The agreement was signed on 22 October 2008 between the Government of Haiti, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is providing the funding.

In Haiti IFAD's US$10.2 million is being implemented through the FAO's recently-established Initiative on Soaring Food Prices (ISFP), part of a larger package of assistance to poor smallholder farmers.

In Haiti smallholder farmers make up 80 percent of the agricultural workforce and many of them are facing severe under-nourishment.

The aim of the agricultural rescue package is to have a quick impact on local production, increase the availability of basic food products in the markets, and strengthen food security in the population at large.

The assistance will boost agricultural production in the current and coming 2008-2009 agricultural season by supporting hundreds of thousands of small farmers and their families, who have been gravely affected by the increase of food prices.

Over the past four years, food prices have increased by an average of 18 percent annually, affecting in particular staples such as rice and maize as well as beans, oil and other basic foods. Both rural and urban populations have been severely affected by the crisis which has resulted in widespread hunger, economic crisis and social and political unrest.

Through the project, over 240 000 smallholder farmers will receive a package comprising, among other inputs, vegetable seeds, cereal seeds, manioc, sweet potato and banana plants. National capacity for seed production and other local agricultural organizations will be strengthened in an effort to improve food security across the country.

The project will be implemented, with immediate effect, over the coming 15 months.