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10 February 2010

Rome Meeting to Mobilize Support for Haiti’s Agricultural Sector, February 10, 2010

By Kathryn McConnell
Staff Writer

Washington — Haitian Agriculture Minister Joanas Gue will convene a high-level international meeting at U.N. World Food Programme headquarters in Rome February 12 to coordinate support for Haiti’s agricultural sector.

The meeting comes on the one-month anniversary of the devastating earthquake in Haiti.

Cheryl Mills, counselor to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, will represent the United States at the meeting, where Haiti’s medium and long-term agricultural development will be discussed in terms of the country’s overall redevelopment plan.

Mills and Milton Rondo, representing Brazil’s foreign ministry, will participate in a discussion about the role of donors in rebuilding the agriculture sector.

Representing U.N. agencies will be Jacques Diouf, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization; Josette Sheeran, executive director of the World Food Programme; and Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development.

In addition to representatives of the private and nonprofit sectors, invitees to the Rome meeting are from the World Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the U.N. High-Level Task Force for the Global Food Crisis, the U.N. Haiti Special Envoy and the Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture.

The World Food Programme will carry the event live online at www.wfp.org from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. Rome time (8 a.m. to 11 a.m. Eastern Standard Time).

“As daily requirements scream for immediate official attention, so too does the need for an agricultural development plan that will be able to address hunger and nutrition in Haiti,” said the U.S. ambassador to the U.N. Agencies in Rome, Ertharin Cousin, in a posting on DipNote, the State Department’s blog.

In a hint of the tenor of upcoming discussions in Rome, the International Food Policy Research Institute said in a recent statement that nutrition programs in Haiti need to focus on preventing malnutrition and to target children during their first two years of life, “a crucial time in a child’s physical and cognitive development.”

The United States is the largest donor to date to the World Food Programme’s emergency relief efforts in Haiti, having given $78 million and 4 million ready-to-eat meals, the U.N. aid agency said. Overall, the United States has contributed nearly $523 million in humanitarian funds for Haiti, according to a February 7 U.S. Agency for International Development fact sheet (PDF, 53KB).

President Obama has committed $3.5 billion over three years to establish a Global Hunger and Food Security Initiative to attack the root causes of hunger, poverty and malnutrition in the world.

(This is a product of the Bureau of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State. Web site: http://www.america.gov)

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