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Presbyterian Disaster Assistance to give $500,000 for seeds of hope in Haiti

Seeds and tools will help Haitian farmers feed the country and build the economy

April 19, 2010

LOUISVILLE, Ky.

It is rainy season in Haiti. While that sometimes creates terrible challenges for those whose homes were destroyed in the earthquake, it is also good news. The rainy season is the growing season. And for thousands of farmers, it is both an opportunity for economic recovery and a chance for them to play an important role in their country’s healing process.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance (PDA) is partnering with the Presbyterian Hunger Program to provide funds and staff support for seeds of hope for Haiti. PDA has committed $500,000 to purchase seeds and tools for farmers who are trying to feed the hundreds of thousands of displaced Haitians who have left Port-au-Prince, as well as the communities that are hosting the displaced.

PDA is working through FONDAMA, a new partner network in Haiti that was organized last fall with support from the Presbyterian Hunger Program ministry “Joining Hands Against Hunger.” FONDAMA will mobilize 30,000 farmers all over the country and help boost their production by providing them with corn and bean seeds, and simple tools. The farmers, especially those who returned to the countryside without any resources or tools after the earthquake, will then have what they need to grow crops.

Seeds will be purchased locally. This has three benefits: (1) it further supports the disaster-impacted economy; (2) it secures seed varieties that are appropriate for local conditions; and (3) it reduces transportation expenses.

While immediate food distribution is critical for survival in the first days after a disaster, the medium- to long-term recovery calls for a different kind of response. The seeds and tools project provides food for people in need and helps the local agricultural economy take the first steps toward long-term sustainability.

When distribution of foreign food donations is used as a long-term solution, the local agricultural economy is circumvented by an influx of cheap or free foreign goods. Such a response could actually harm the local economy and any hope of self sufficiency. The PDA grant allows thousands of rural farmers to do their part in growing corn and beans so that Haitians participate in their own recovery and can create a self-reliant future.

“While we affirm and share in the important immediate response of critical food distribution, we are pleased to join in this promising long-term response. It is our hope and goal that by supporting FONDAMA and other Haitian partners, we can cultivate a lasting recovery that fosters self-sufficiency rather than dependency,” said Randy Ackley, PDA coordinator.

Presbyterians are taking the lead in this endeavor, and the effort is receiving support from other faith partners in North America. PDA’s contribution will provide seeds and tools to approximately 7,000 of the 30,000 farmers targeted by FONDAMA. PDA has assigned temporary staff on site to help organize and launch the program.

To learn more about the work of Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and to contribute to the recovery work in Haiti, visit the PDA home page. To learn more about the Presbyterian Hunger Program, visit the Web site. See more about FONDAMA (Fondasyon Men-lan-men Ayiti or “Foundation Hands in Hands Haiti”) at the Joining Hands Web site.

Presbyterian Disaster Assistance and the Presbyterian Hunger Program are ministries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), which comprises more than 2 million members in more than 10,000 congregations, answering Christ’s call to mission and ministry throughout the United States and the world.

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