IFAD funds project to help hurricane-damaged agricultural areas of Haiti

By agency reporter
August 6, 2018

The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the government of Haiti have signed a financing agreement that will help restore agricultural productivity in areas of the country most-affected by Hurricane Matthew in October 2016.

The agreement includes a US$10.8 million investment in the Agricultural and Agroforestry Technological Innovation Programme (PITAG, by its French acronym). The project is already underway with support from the Inter-American Development Banks (IDB) and the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

IFAD funding will allow PITAG to expand its outreach into eight additional 'communes' or municipalities in the South Department, an area badly damaged by Hurricane Matthew, and will help spread the adoption of sustainable agricultural technologies.

"Haiti's rural population suffers from a vicious circle of low agricultural productivity, high environmental degradation and poor nutrition,” said Lars Anwandter, manager of IFAD's programme in Haiti. “The project aims to break this cycle and help small farm families improve their productivity, food security and income levels."

In total, PITAG will invest $76.8 million in improving the lives of Haitian small farmers. Particularly disadvantaged groups such as women and youth will be targeted, and more than 65,000 households are expected to benefit.

According to Anwandter, PITAG will allow small farmers to produce more and better while taking care of the environment – something desperately needed in one of the world’s poorest countries which is greatly impacted by climate change.

Over the last few decades, the Caribbean island has seen its soils, water reservoirs and woods severely degraded. World Bank data show poverty is rampant across the country (59 per cent of the total population) and even more acute in rural areas (75 per cent).

To face these challenges, PITAG will make available to Haitian small holders agricultural technologies and practices that are well-suited to local conditions. For example, cultivation of combinations of fruit trees and vegetables will make it possible to achieve larger harvests and feed more people. Today, Haiti produces only 45 per cent of the food that Haitians need.

PITAG takes a people-centred approach, with a strong focus on community involvement. The new technologies and practices will be put in place through farmer field schools, a method of learning which involves peer-to-peer teaching programmes. After the training, small farmers will get inputs and support to put into practice the innovations they have learned about.

"We at IFAD don't just provide funds to people", said Anwandter. "We help people take charge of their own development."

* IFAD is an international financial institution and a specialised United Nations agency based in Rome, the UN’s food and agriculture hub.

[Ekk/4]

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