HAITI'S SENATE DETERMINES TO FIGHT HUNGER AND PUSH FOR FOOD SECURITY
(Defend Haiti) - By Samuel Maxime
PORT-AU-PRINCE - Food security remains a big threat to national security and in the fall of 2011, Senator Simon Desras Dieuseul and 6 other senators have determined themselves to fight hunger and have Haiti be a nation secure in food. The senators have drafted a resolution calling for improved coordination of resources, policies and oversight to alleviate the threat of hunger in the territory.
Senator Desras was elected to a second term to represent the Central Plateau (Centre) in Haiti. In this large region acres upon acres of undeveloped land and soil wait to be used. Historically, this region led in agricultural production that made Haiti the 'Pearl of the Antilles'.
Today with more than a million children suffering from hunger and malnutrition, a resolution was drafted to directly address the problem for the long term. Along with Senators, Steven Benoit (Ouest), Kelly Bastien, Westner Polycarpe, Melius Gyppolite, Lucas Saint Vil and Bien Aime Jean Baptiste, Senator Desras formed the Parliamentary Front against Hunger to provide food security to the Haitian population.
In communications with Defend Haiti, Desras explained the dynamics of such an initiative by comparing it to that of a similar program implemented in Brazil nearly a decade ago.
"The Haitian Parliamentary Front against hunger in Haiti is seeking to model the successful Fome Zero program which contributed to more than 20 million people being placed out of the Brazilian national poverty line within only 8 years," the Senator explained to DH.
It is true, Brazil had recorded significant economic gains with the establishment of such a program. An unexpected benefit was a clear reduction in child labor exploitation and an increase in attendance of children in public schools. Institutions provided one free meal per day in the program.
Today a million children suffer from hunger and malnutrition. The numbers reflect a need for 1.7 million tons of grain to alleviate hunger but currently the country is only producing 500,000 tons. Social uprisings in Haiti usually follow hikes in food prices due to shortages in the global market. Always skeptical and keeping them honest, DH gained hold of the senate resolution committing to fight hunger to see how would such a program be funded and how could it be executed and managed.
In its totality, the group of senators found that through the coordination of resources, already available, the structuring of new policies by the executive and legislative branches of government and with competent federal oversight, the program can be funded and managed to success.
"Sustainable agricultural and increasing access to nutritional crops and small scale agribusiness for women and disadvantageous farmers is one of our many goals," said Senator Simon Desras, eluding to some of the policies encouraged in the resolution.
The plan calls for organizations and NGOs in Haiti, from the World Trade Organization to the World Food Program to provide agricultural support and development research towards assisting the capacity of local farmers. These organizations, who have operated in Haiti for many decades, would in the case of this resolution, be coordinating to address national goals of fighting hunger.
In addition, the senators require that their colleagues in Parliament and the Executive create a national fund for providing public assistance against hunger and malnutrition and that concrete policies be put in place to curb the exploitation of agricultural and reserve land for the use of food production.
The Senator from the Centre Department explained his desire to begin the fight: "I am eager to commence and implement the Haitian Parliamentary Front against Hunger in Haiti, because food security is important to ensure economic and social stability."
The group of senators have directed the President of the Assembly, Senator Rudolphe Joazile, to forward the resolution to see that it is passed in the legislature and that member states and organizations may begin cooperating to achieve its ends.