Haiti's Agriculture Minister speaks at UN World Food Programme meeting, Rome, Feb. 12, 2010.
19 February 2010
Haiti’s Agriculture Focus: Enhance Food Security, Generate Income, Create Jobs, February 19, 2010
On the one month anniversary of the tragic earthquake in Haiti, high-level representatives gathered in Rome to witness the unveiling of Haiti's new agriculture plan. The plan was presented by Haiti's Agriculture Minister, Joanas Gue, who noted at the outset of his presentation that Haiti's planting season is set to begin next month, and thus urgent steps need to be taken now to ensure that Haitian farmers are prepared and receive the necessary support.
In addition, all parties at the Rome meeting concurred that stakeholders in Haiti's development need to seize this opportunity to develop medium and long-term perspectives for sustainable food security and agriculture development in Haiti. Toward that end, Minister Gue enunciated Haiti's priorities, which include the reconstruction of productive infrastructures; strengthening and bolstering productive capacity of farmers; and improving enhancement of farm products and strengthened access to market structures.
Cheryl Mills, Counselor and Chief of Staff to Secretary of State Clinton, represented the United States at the Rome meeting, and took the opportunity to emphasize U.S. determination to stand by Haiti and to redouble our commitment to support development of the agriculture sector under a coordinated plan led by Haiti and in line with the Rome Principles established earlier this year to promote global food security. She took the occasion to announce important new areas of U.S. investment: rebuilding the Ministry of Agriculture; rapid and transparent information exchange and coordination; enhanced engagement with the Dominican Republic and job creation while not abandoning the pre-quake strategy. The United States is also assisting in the immediate term through resources for seed and fertilizer to ensure that farmers can capitalize on the planting season.
The tragedy in Haiti has spurred real movement on the part of the international community, with an exciting new proposal coming from the Directors General of the World Food Programme, International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the Food and Agriculture Organization to form a joint Task Force for Food Security in Haiti. This task force will support Haiti's efforts to implementation a concerted, coherent and targeted immediate and longer-term food security strategy that integrates agricultural production and social safety nets. For its part, the World Bank proposed the creation of a Multi-Donor Trust Fund for Haiti, which was developed in collaboration with the Inter-American Development Bank, while Canada proposed structuring donor pledges strictly as grants.
Given the scale of the need in Haiti, the path toward sustainable food security will require a complex combination of government, multilateral, and regional efforts, with necessary engagement by both the private sector and civil society. We look forward to working with all of the stakeholders in the months and years ahead to invest in Haitian agriculture and to take aim at poverty -- the root cause of food insecurity and under-nutrition.