Farmers in north-western Haiti are likely to lose a significant portion of their rice harvest due to reluctance to work in paddy fields they fear are contaminated by the cholera-causing bacteria, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said today, adding that it is helping to carry out a hygiene awareness campaign among the farming communities.
A cholera epidemic in Haiti has claimed the lives of more than 2,700 people and infected some 130,000 others since October.
FAO said it is working with the Haitian ministries of agriculture and health to provide hygiene information to farmers. The agency’s preliminary assessment indicates that many farmers are avoiding the harvest, fearing that the water in the rivers and canals that irrigate their paddies and other fields might be infected.
There are also reports of consumers avoiding food produced in regions affected by the cholera outbreak, a factor that could further damage trade in agricultural produce. The agency and its partners are also supporting the assessment on cholera’s impact on food security and rural livelihoods.
The effects of the cholera outbreak on agriculture were compounded by the November floods brought on by hurricane Tomas, which damaged farming infrastructure and damaged up to 78,000 hectares of crops