Foreign Food Aid Causes Misery for Haiti Farmers, Says Oxfam

The flow of foreign food aid to quake-ravaged Haiti is helping feed displaced people at the expense of local farmers, a report by Oxfam International reveals.

“Currently, U.S. rice subsidies and in-kind food aid undercut Haitian farmers at the same time as the U.S. government is investing in Haitian agricultural development,” said Philippe Mathieu, Oxfam’s director for Haiti.

The international community, according to the aid group, has been focusing too much on food donations rather than developing Haiti’s agriculture-based economy.

“The international community must abandon these conflicting trade and aid policies in order to support the growth of Haiti’s fragile rural economy,” Mathieu said.

The report adds that the aid community refuses to back the Haitian government’s USD772 million agricultural plan drafted after January’s devastating earthquake. It also criticizes the Bumpers Amendment, which imposes a ban on direct assistance to industries that compete with U.S. exports.

A spokesman for the U.S. Agency for International Development said the agency was balancing short-term needs of Haitians with longer-term assistance for agricultural infrastructure development.

“USAID is using multiple tools to provide life-saving food to Haitians in the short term, while simultaneously building and strengthening Haiti’s agriculture sector in the long term,” the spokesman was quoted by Reuters as saying.

About the author

  • Ma. Rizza Leonzon

    As a former staff writer, Rizza focused mainly on business coverage, including key donors such as the Asian Development Bank and AusAID.