About 60 percent of Haiti’s 10 million people are farmers, yet the country still imports more than 50 percent of its food. According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), approximately 80 percent of Haiti’s population lives below the poverty line, and more than 60 percent cannot access sufficient food to eat due to lack of purchasing power. Local demand for food is expected to grow approximately 10-15 percent over the next five years.
Closely linked to its combination of mountainous topography, powerful storms, and severe environmental degradation, agricultural productivity and food security in Haiti have systematically declined in the last three decades. Sixty percent of Haiti’s land has a slope of at least 20 percent, and a shift to annual cropping on steep slopes destroys crops, furthers erosion, reduces the availability of ground water for irrigation in the fertile plains, and depletes basic nutrients required for increased production. Approximately 85 percent of the country’s watersheds are degraded, the result of deforestation and other erosive farming practices. Haiti’s farmers needed help protecting their land against extreme weather, preventing soil erosion, and improving agricultural productivity.