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Using Food Aid to Support, Not Harm, Haitian Agriculture

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April 2010, Mark Weisbrot, Jake Johnston, and Rebecca Ray

This paper proposes that international donors seeking to support Haiti’s agricultural sector and provide food to those in need could help Haiti become more self-sufficient by purchasing the entire Haitian rice crop over the next two years. The paper finds that buying up all of Haiti’s rice should be close to the amount of food aid for rice that the international community is likely to provide this year, and would provide a tremendous boost to Haitian farmers, who currently are unable to compete with low-cost rice imports from the U.S.

The paper suggests the aid donors buy the rice at a price that is high enough to encourage local production. Even though this would have to be somewhat higher than an average of past years’ market prices, the cost would only be between $62.1 million and $82.8 million per year. Since international donors have committed $5.3 billion in aid for the next 18 months, or $3.53 billion annually, the cost of buying Haiti’s rice crop would be only 1.76 to 2.35 percent of committed international aid funds.

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