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Haiti’s family-farming reaping rewards

Haiti’s largely family farming-oriented agriculture appear to be reaping rich rewards for that poverty-stricken country , officials reported on Thursday at the 13th Caribbean Week of Agriculture being held in Suriname.

Haitian officials, speaking through an interpreter, showcased their progress by showing off statistics that food production has increased by 15 percent over the last two years and consumption has moved from 45 percent to 48 percent at the local and national levels.

Those figures were released at the session on “Haiti’s Agri food systems and Building Regional Synergies”  at CWA 2014 whose theme is “Transforming Caribbean Agriculture through Family Farming.”

Improvements in food production have been also credited to family farmers’ access to private sector financial services as a result of increasing governmental support. Official figures also show that 25 private investments have been approved by Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture, resulting in an investment of US$30 million and the creating of more than 4,500 jobs.

Officials also announced that as a result of family farming and agri-business initiatives, poverty has declined from 32 percent to 24 percent.

The French Creole-speaking country is expected in the coming months to have an agricultural bank, even as the government there seeks to target the American, Mexican and Caribbean markets.

Haitian farmers are currently supplying half of the country’s food.

The Food and Agriculture Organisation’s (FAO) Caribbean Coordinator, Dr. John “Deep” Ford, meanwhile announced that his organization would be strengthening its presence in Haiti with the rare appointment of a Deputy Head of the office there and other technical staff.  “We feel that we need to do that not only for Haiti but for the Caribbean as a whole,” he said, adding that the future of that country looked bright.

He noted that the FAO programme in Haiti was worth more than US$25 million and a pipeline of about US$12 million for the next two years.

Ford hinted that he hoped that the citizenship dispute between Haiti and the Dominican Republic could be resolved so that Haiti and the rest of Caricom could easily take advantage of the DR’s market of 10 million persons.

Caricom has virtually cut off diplomatic relations with the DR because the latter has refused to recognize and grant citizenship Haitian offspring in that Spanish-speaking country.