More than two dozen organizations have signed a letter to Congress asking the US to purchase food aid in Haiti in order to play “a more constructive role” in food security policy. This echoes comments President Preval made earlier about food aid. They also mention the importance of identifying and tackling barriers to increased agricultural productivity, including:
the absence of credit, antiquated tools, damaged irrigation systems, prohibitively high fertilizer prices, subsidized rice, and food aid that undercuts their sales.
An earlier post pointed to a hortatory essay by development expert John Mellor on the vital importance of agricultural development in poverty reduction.
In a quote in Haiti Liberte, President Clinton referred to the dumping of rice in nations like Haiti as a “devil’s bargain”:
[There was an economic theory that] you would free [the poorest nations by giving food aid] to skip agricultural development and go straight into an industrial era. And it’s failed everywhere it’s been tried. And you just can’t take the food chain out of production … it also undermines a lot of the culture, the fabric of life, the sense of self-determination... And we made this devil’s bargain on rice. And it wasn’t the right thing to do. We should have continued to work to help them be self-sufficient in agriculture. (April 13, 2010; English language version)