The earthquake left 650,000 people needing immediate assistance and compounded an already dire situation in Haiti. Before the earthquake, almost half of the country – 4.4 million people – faced food insecurity and an estimated 90 per cent of the rural population were living below the poverty line.
It is vital that the international relief community learns lessons from the 2010 earthquake and leverages local food systems in Haiti right now. Unlike imported food aid, local produce will both help those impacted by the earthquake and inject critically needed incomes into the rural economy to support Haiti’s ongoing recovery.
When 60 percent of families rely on agriculture for their livelihoods, it follows that any shocks that impact food markets will also have a lasting impact on their economic security and wellbeing. The longer Haiti continues to rely on non-income-generating food aid, the greater the negative impact on farmers and the longer it takes for Haiti to develop a self-sustaining agricultural sector.
While local food production alone may not be sufficient to fully meet all current needs – the sobering irony is that Haiti needs food aid from the international community now precisely because the international community has under-invested in supporting Haiti’s own food systems in the past – there are, however, local food solutions, like Acceso that have make major inroads in boosting smallholder production in the country that are now responding to the crisis and can be quickly scaled further to accelerate Haiti’s recovery.
Acceso in Haiti
Acceso has been working in Haiti since 2014. Our vision of Haiti is one that is strong, with functioning food systems, empowered smallholder farmers, and sustainable local solutions to local challenges. We have established and manage the largest formalized network of 5,000+ farmers in Haiti and have built an entire food system that increases their agricultural productivity, provides digital assistance, logistics solutions, value added processing capabilities, and creates robust market connections to domestic, export and Haiti’s humanitarian markets.
Acceso’s disaster response
Acceso’s model is specifically designed to be able to pivot agricultural supply in times like these, so that we can respond quickly and efficiently to meet local sourcing needs for food aid. In the immediate days following the earthquake:
- We sourced and delivered 200,000 lbs. of local fruits, vegetables and grains for local and international relief organizations supporting the feeding of 200,000 meals
- We donated 20,000 jars of our export product Lavi Peanut Butter and combined this with locally made bread and cassava to feed 30,000 people in vulnerable communities
- We are ramping up food supply and preparing locally-sourced family food recovery kits containing peanut butter, bread, peanut-based snacks, rice, beans, maize, and eggs for most at-need families.
Acceso has been uniquely positioned to respond to the feeding needs of this crisis because of our:
- Robust built-in smallholder farmer sourcing network and infrastructure;
- Deep knowledge of overall smallholder production in the country including production networks of dozens of local partners;
- Investment in finance & inventory systems to quickly procure / distribute large quantities from small farmers
- Experience with sourcing locally for large feeding programs for children and throught COVID.
- Our quick food processing capabilities through a long-term partnership with Partners in Health
Acceso’s feeding partners
Acceso has provided local food to the following international and local organizations on the front line, providing them with reliable, timely and flexible response to their kitchen/supply needs.
Haiti Christian Development Fund
Hope for Haiti
Partners In Health
Saint Boniface Hospital
Smallholder Farmers Alliance
World Central Kitchen
Ongoing recovery efforts and potential partnerships
The immediate demand for food continues. Vulnerable families who need food now will also need food throughout Haiti’s recovery, and the only way to guarantee food security after the current aid ends is to support the country’s agriculture sector.
Photo: World Central Kitchen, one of Acceso’s feeding partners
Acceso has the following recommendations for those supporting continued relief efforts and Haiti’s recovery:
- A more efficient formalized line haul (transport) and aggregation capabilities from Port-au-Prince to the south is needed. One of the ongoing issues providing local food to impacted areas is the reliability and security and availability of contracted transport which is being organized ad hoc. Acceso is able to quickly implement consolidated, time definite, truck line haul into impacted areas over the next 3-6 months.
- Food kits for families in additional to local relief kitchens. These are an efficient and cheap way to get weeks’ long supply to families in need so they can focus on their own recovery. A locally sourced food kit that can feeds a family of five with two meals per day for two weeks costs USD $65 USD or ~50 cents per meal. Food purchasing will come from Acceso’s network of farmers, local NGOs farmer networks, and small Haitian rural SMEs.
- Additional local food in bulk quantities for NGO kitchens at the front line is urgently needed. Acceso has the capacity to scale quickly to be a one stop shop for most local supply needs for these organizations as the crisis continues.
- Let this crisis also be a rallying cry for long-term agricultural investment in Haiti!
To support and learn more about our Lavi Peanut Butter Recovery campaign for individual giving and Lavi customers, visit www.LaviforHaiti.com.