Port-au-Prince, Aug. 19 (CNA) Taiwan's agricultural programs in quake-stricken ally Haiti have helped to establish a burgeoning rice industry here and have also provided 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 and the government asked Taiwan for agricultural assistance, Carlos Hsiang, head of the Taiwan agricultural mission in Haiti, told CNA on Sunday.
The mission then introduced the TCS 10 rice variety to the country and helped improve farming techniques and irrigation facilities, Hsiang said, adding that Taiwanese technicians also advised farmers how to husk rice and sell the crop.
The rice harvest now meets 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 some 80 farmers improve their farming techniques, said project director Yang Feng-hsu.
The mission also successfully grew guavas, wax apples and egg plants and provided as many as 60,000 seedlings to local farmers, Yang added.
The chicken breeding program is aimed at reducing Haiti's reliance on imports, said program director Kuo Yu-liang.
The goal is to raise 180,000 chickens per year in southeastern Haiti, raising the percentage of locally produced chickens to 18 percent, Kuo said.
In addition to the agricultural programs, Taiwan also funded and built a resettlement project in Haiti to house 1,000 people who lost their homes during a 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 a day earlier. It was fully funded by Taiwan's Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Red Cross Society of the Republic of China.
(By Leaf Chiang and Kendra Lin)