Taiwan’s agricultural programs in quake-stricken diplomatic ally Haiti have helped to establish a burgeoning rice industry in the nation while also providing technical assistance to help farmers counter the impact of potential food shortages.
A program to grow rice on 30,000 hectares of land was launched in 2008, when food price hikes led to a series of riots which prompted the Haitian government to ask for agricultural assistance from Taiwan, Carlos Hsiang (向水松), head of the Taiwan agricultural mission in Haiti, said on Sunday.
The mission then introduced the TCS 10 rice variant to the country which helped improve farming techniques and irrigation facilities, Hsiang said, adding that Taiwanese technicians also advised farmers how to husk rice and sell their crops.
Haiti’s rice harvest now meets its domestic needs and is also exported to North America, Hsiang said.
Run by Taiwan’s International Cooperation and Development Fund, the four major programs also offer assistance and expertise to help farmers grow vegetables, bamboo and raise chickens.
Located near the capital, Port-au-Prince, the vegetable and fruit production project has helped 80 farmers improve their farming techniques, project director Yang Feng-hsu (楊豐旭) said.
The mission also grew guavas, wax apples and eggplants and provided as many as 60,000 seedlings to local farmers, Yang said.
The chicken breeding program, meanwhile, is aimed at reducing Haiti’s reliance on imported food, program director Kuo Yu-liang (郭育良) said.
The goal is to raise 180,000 chickens per year in the southeast of the Caribbean state, raising the percentage of locally produced chickens on the market to 18 percent, Kuo said.
In addition to the agricultural support programs, Taiwan has also funded and helped to build a resettlement project to house 1,000 people who lost their homes during the magnitude 7 earthquake in 2010.
The Village of Hope — which includes housing for 200 families, an elementary school and a 300 hectare area suitable for agriculture — was inaugurated on Saturday. It was fully funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China.