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On January 12, 2010 a magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, with the epicenter approximately 15 km west of Port-au-Prince. As of March, 222,653 people were estimated to have died in the surrounding areas, with an additional 310,000 wounded. The Sud-Est (Southeast) department was one of the worst hit areas, with more than 400 dead and 40% of all residents affected in some way.
This report analyzes the beans market system in the Sud-Est department of Haiti in March-April 2010. This market system was selected for its importance as both a source of income and as a staple food in Sud-Est and throughout Haiti. The study aimed to understand the constraints in the beans market system preventing the target population’s access to beans.
It is estimated that the Sud-Est region produces approximately 15 percent of the national total of beans. Different types of beans may be destined for different markets; most red beans grown in this region head to Port-au-Prince as prices are higher, while more black beans stay in Sud-Est for local consumption. Haitian beans are considered superior in quality and taste to imported beans, so imports (which come mainly from the US) rise and fall in inverse relation to the supply of domestic beans. Imports normally constitute approximately 10-15 percent of total consumption.Food aid, often from the United States or the World Food Program, has been a part of the Haitian beans market for years and accounts for perhaps 5 percent of total consumption. "Madam Saras," the local term for traders, connect rural producers with markets.
Since the earthquake, there are two main constraints in the beans market system: a lack of purchasing power among Sud-Est households and a lack of cash and assets among beans growers, which limits their ability to buy bean seeds and may lead to a supply shortage later in the year if not addressed. Additionally, several earthquake-related disruptions to key services and infrastructure, such as transportation and storage, persist. Food aid has increased significantly and may also contribute to decreased demand.
Recommended short-term interventions include seed distributions, scaling down food distributions and cash-based programs to improve the buying power of affected households. Longer-term recommended interventions for improving the overall function of the beans market to mitigate future disruptions include laying the foundation for a functioning private-sector seed system, working with existing or new institutions to provide financial services appropriate for agriculture, working with authorities to approve security at key market places and undertaking disaster risk reduction measures such as improving storage and preservation of surplus harvests.