The Louisville-based Presbyterian Church U.S.A. is ramping up its efforts to help farmers in Haiti following the January earthquake. WFPL’s Elizabeth Kramer reports.

The church has had development projects with Haitian partner groups for decades, including those involving agriculture. Now, it’s providing half a million dollars for a giving seeds and tools to farmers working to feed Haitians who left Port-au-Prince following the earthquake.

The Presbyterians’ Lionel Derenoncourt, who is from Haiti, is involved in the project. He says most of these people were originally from rural areas.

“When these people returned to those communities — that put a tremendous pressure on the local resources to support these added mouths and these added hands, which would be unemployed people,” he says.

Derenoncourt says the project will work with 30,000 farmers and help Haiti begin reconstructing an agricultural sector that has been undermined for years by imported food that inhibited farmers’ ability to compete in the marketplace

The project is designed to help farmers feed hundreds of thousands of people who are now in rural areas.

Because of the earthquake, there was a massive influx of people to all rural communities,” Derenoncourt says. “People who had migrated initially from the rural areas to Port-Au-Prince returned after the earthquake.”

He says this is just one step in a long-term process toward restoring agricultural markets, which had been undercut for decades by Haiti’s importing half of its food.

“Haiti has been on the receiving end of massive food aid over the years and that has not helped our economy,” he says. “That has created a weaker agricultural sector and compounded our problem of hunger.”

The United Nations reports in its international appeal for Haiti that the agricultural sector has remained severely underfunded.

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