In Haiti, we are accustomed to living in adversity. However, the incredible resilience of the Haitian people is not an excuse for inaction, especially in food policy. Too many Haitian citizens are hungry. Even one hungry person is too many. This is unacceptable.
This is why we inaugurated the social program “Ede Pep” in October at La Plaine du Nord. We are distributing more than 50,000 food packages baskets a month through “Panye Solidarity”. A food kit consists of rice, ground corn and beans – all sourced locally from Haitian farmers where possible.
This measure is complemented by the school feeding programme and community restaurants and ‘Kantin Mobil’ which supplies hot meals to children and vulnerable adults for free or at an extremely low cost.
These are concrete and immediate measures. In an emergency situation, for example after earthquake of 12 January 2010 and more recently, Hurricane Sandy, distributing food directly to people in need is necessary. But we must also think ahead. Beyond money or goods received, Haiti must develop a food policy targeted at autonomy.
We depend too much on other countries for food security. Nearly 60% of our food is imported. We need to think long term and about sustainable development. We must become more independent. I sincerely hope that we can make concrete progress to greater self-reliance, greater self-sufficiency and thereby, greater resilience to challenges such as storms, flooding or drought.
Just last May, our neighbor, the Dominican Republic, has become self-sufficient in the production of rice. Haiti can do the same.
The Haitian corn industry is also important. A special fair was held in Hinche, the Central Plateau from 7-9 December. It was aimed at raising awareness about the value of eating local food. This is another initiative that will bear fruit as long as we work together.
Together we are stronger. Together, as a people, we show our resilience. We must make every effort during this difficult period. It is in this vein that I wish also remind everyone that inspections are being made in the markets to ensure that the price for a small pot of rice is not exceeding 18 gourdes. We managed to reduce the price by 33% and this also protects people’s access to food.
The country is hungry. We continue to work hard to rebuild the country. We move forward. The road is long, but we are moving, we’re getting there.
I know we are. I am convinced.