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Extreme weather events, including a severe drought in June, Hurricane Isaac in August and Hurricane Sandy this past October have dealt a debilitating blow to Haitian farmers who were already struggling to feed their families. Farmer’s throughout the country have lost an estimated 40% to 70% of their crops. In a country where there is no insurance for such losses, the consequences on families are dire. According to the UN, an estimated 1.5million people in rural areas are at risk of hunger. Other agencies estimate that at least one quarter of the rural population is already facing extreme hunger, with some adults reporting going five days without solid food. The blow to local food production has increased dependence on imported food consequently subjecting farmers to increases in global food prices, which are at an all time high.

Last year's storms were not an aberration, and some experts have defined them as "the new normal." Hurricanes in the Caribbean are not a new phenomenon.  There is, however, great concern over the increased frequency and severity of such storms and the threats they pose to people who are living on the margins of poverty. Moreover, it is not only hurricanes, which are of concern, but extreme weather events, such as droughts which also puts many at risk of hunger. In previous years Haiti was hit by a number of damaging weather events, and in 2008, nearly 3000 people were killed due to flooding caused by four back to back major storms. Each year farmers see their crops and livelihood threatened by extreme storms and weather events of varying severity. Haiti is at particular risk due to the country's environmental conditions -only an estimated 2% of Haiti's forests remain. With limited root systems to hold the soil, there is erosion, the potential for landslides, loss of property, injury and death.

With this new normal, it is necessary now more than ever, to assist farmers in adopting more sustainable farming techniques that put less stress on the land, protect soil and reverse the devastation already wreaked on the environment. It is equally important to ensure that farmer's themselves have a fair chance in local and international markets, and that the through access to technological innovation, credit, and support they can add value to their produce in order, earn more income and lift their families out of poverty. The new normal also demands better disaster planning tools and resources so that farmers can anticipate and be prepared for these extreme conditions. And lastly, farmers will need assurances in the face of increased risk of loss if they are to continue to farm and enable the country to become food sovereign.





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