Agriculture Looks For Ways to Serve in Wake of Haiti Disaster

January 15, 2010 Bookmark and Share

The wheat industry joined others in agriculture this week in considering ways in which the industry’s resources can be brought to bear in Haiti after a devastating earthquake there on Tuesday.

Many in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country before the quake, are dependent on agriculture, though the country as a whole is subject to natural disasters, including tropical storms and earthquakes, and has experienced decades of political unrest.

The immediate need in the devastated country was for cash directed at aid agencies including the Red Cross and the United Nations’ World Food Programme (WFP). Food, medical supplies and housing were desperately needed, though destroyed infrastructure impeded relief efforts for days after the disaster. The U.S. Air Force helped to reopen the airport to relief services on Friday, and up to 10,000 U.S. troops were expected in Haiti by Monday.

Among the structures destroyed was Haiti’s main flour mill, in the capital Port-au-Prince, which is jointly owned by U.S. companies and the Haitian government. Ports servicing the capital also suffered severe damage, hindering the ability of shipments to arrive there.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) said Wednesday that it is sending 14,550 tons of food aid from the Title II prepositioned stocks in Jascinto, Texas. The food will include 7,000 tons of rice, 4,550 tons of corn soy blend and 3,000 tons of vegetable oil. The food will be distributed by WPF and other, private organizations, and should help feed 1.2 million people for two weeks.

Once the immediate crisis has been managed and initial rebuilding needs are assessed, NAWG, U.S. Wheat Associates and others in the wheat chain will work together to provide relief within the industry’s capabilities and, if possible, specialties. Some ways in which the industry could contribute would be to donate wheat or flour, technical assistance during rebuilding efforts or cash.

In the meantime, grower organizations are urging prayers for Haitians and rescue workers and donations to appropriate relief organizations.

The Red Cross has raised millions from a text message campaign asking individuals to text “Haiti” to 90999 to donate $10. The World Food Programme is taking donations at its site, A CNN-compiled list of organizations providing relief services is available at