The need for better agriculture policies in Haiti

A man tends to his farm in Haiti. A report by Oxfam International says that current approaches to agriculture development in Haiti are problematic. Photo by: uusc4all / CC BY-NC-ND

As with most aspects of Haiti’s reconstruction, efforts to develop the country’s agriculture sector remains insufficient to revitalize local farmers’ livelihood.

This is the sobering conclusion of a report released Oct. 15 by Oxfam International, which argues that current approaches to agriculture development in Haiti are problematic. Donors and the government, the report says, should “redouble” their investments in the sector using a “better framework for their actions.”

Outlining some practical steps to implement this recommendation, the report urges the government to prioritize the National Agriculture Implementation Plan and strengthen relevant institutions as well as integrate gender equality in related policies. Donors, meanwhile, should improve coordination with civil society organizations in terms of program design and management, build local capacities, prioritize food security and good agriculture governance in their aid strategy, and focus on financing locally produced food aid, the report says.

For civil society, the report outlines a number action points as well: invest in capacity development, focus on gender justice in their interventions, partner with universities to promote research and ensure it is applied in the agriculture sector, and increase awareness on climate change adaptation.

The report specifically calls for action geared toward small-holder farmers and women in agriculture. It’s a message that resonates with the theme for this year’s celebration of World Food Day: agriculture cooperatives.

Oct. 16 is the U.N.-designated date for World Food Day. This year, the theme revolves around the role of agriculture cooperatives in promoting agriculture development and food security. Along with choosing the theme, the United Nations called on the international community to identify concrete ways to support these groups, which the global body said are “key to feeding the future.”

Among those responding to the United Nations’ call is the European Union, which is currently designing a €26.9 million ($34.95 million) initiative to support farmers’ organizations in Africa. European commissioner for development Andris Piebalgs discussed the initiative in his message for World Food Day, but did not say when it will be launched. The initiative was first mentioned earlier this month, when the EU renewed its partnership on food security with the International Fund for Agriculture Development.

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About the author

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    Ivy Mungcal

    As former senior staff writer, Ivy Mungcal contributed to several Devex publications. Her focus is on breaking news, and in particular on global aid reform and trends in the United States, Europe, the Caribbean, and the Americas. Before joining Devex in 2009, Ivy produced specialized content for U.S. and U.K.-based business websites.