IDB grant to revive Haiti's flagging farm sector
PORT AU PRINCE, Haiti, Thursday June 21, 2012 - A US$15 million grant from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) is geared toward supporting for government efforts to clear obstacles to higher farming productivity.
According to a statement from the IDB, the grant will assist Haiti in its efforts to modernize its agricultural policies and institutions to increase farm productivity and competitiveness. The IDB resources will be complemented with a US$7 million grant from the Haiti Reconstruction Fund.
The programme is the first in a series of three policy-based grants that will provide budget support for the Haitian government’s reforms to address several of the major constraints hampering its agricultural sector, which continues to play a dominant role in the country’s economy.
Farming provides the principal means of subsistence for over 1 million Haitian families and generates about half of the country’s jobs. Agricultural productivity in Haiti has dropped lower than in other countries in Latin America and the Caribbean, has declined over the past two decades, with significant output drops in key crops such as bananas, coffee and rice.
Several donors, including the IDB, are providing financial and technical assistance for these reforms. Among the reforms Haiti will undertake is strengthening the Ministry of Agriculture (MARNDR) to carry out its planning, programming and budgeting functions, improve its capacity to manage, monitor and evaluate programs and increase the effectiveness of its services. Under this program the ministry will create a team of public procurement specialists to boost its capacity to absorb and administer financial resources provided by the government’s treasury and donors.
This reform will enable the MARNDR to better execute programs under its management. At present, IDB grants are financing agriculture projects totaling more than $200 million in Haiti, including crop intensification, irrigation, rural value chains, farming technology transfers, land tenure clarification and watershed management.
Another reform involves updating land administration policies and legal and institutional frameworks. About 60 percent of privately owned parcels lack property titles, a situation that limits long-term rural investment and farmers’ access to credit. Land titling in Haiti is costly and cumbersome and governed by antiquated laws and procedures. Under this program the government will promote legislation to enable surveyors and notaries to use modern technologies that could increase the efficiency of their services.
Haiti will also promote new legislation to assign legal status to water user associations, enabling farmers to manage and maintain irrigation systems. Policies will be updated to ensure coordination between irrigation and watershed management. An inter-agency commission will monitor the management of the Péligre dam, seeking to balance the demands of hydro power generation with the need to provide water to irrigate the Artibonite valley, the country’s principal rice-growing region.
In addition, Haiti needs to build up its agricultural health system to international standards in order to protect crops and livestock from domestic and exotic pests and diseases. The reforms will start by establishing an operational plan with specific targets and rationalizing the use of financial resources for such services.
To expand access to improved farming technologies the reforms will promote the creation of a renewed agricultural research system capable of providing guidance to local rural producers. They will also expand gradually a system of smart subsidies, especially in the northern region where the IDB is concentrating investments, fostering the development of farming advisory services.
The program was designed in coordination with other donors supporting Haiti’s efforts to improve agriculture, including the World Bank, IFAD, IICA, USAID, USDA, the European Union, France, Canada and Brazil.
The IDB is Haiti’s leading multilateral donor. Since the 2010 earthquake it has approved $534 million in new grants and disbursed $396 million for the Haitian government, supporting investments in agriculture, transportation, energy, water and sanitation, education and private sector development.