On average, Haitians consume 70,000-80,000 tons of beans per year. The large majority of beans found in Haitian markets are produced locally. In 2009, Haitian farmers produced approximately 80% of beans consumed. Imports usually account for about 10-15%, and food aid accounts for the remaining 5-10%. Imports and food aid fluctuate depending on national production, for example food aid and imports increased in huge proportions following the 2008 cyclones. Imports from the Dominican Republic are limited and informal; the United States provides the majority of bean imports.
The primary impact of the earthquake on the bean market system has been a decline in consumer income, which translates into a sudden decrease in demand for beans. Implications of this decrease in demand have spread through the bean market system, and will have serious effects if they are not addressed in the immediate term. The first impact of the demand decrease is a tightening of formal and informal credit. A lack of credit affects the livelihoods of rural and urban Madame Saras, and constricts the bean trade. Many retailers have been forced to take on a second debt, where possible, to restock after earthquake damages. The second impact is linked to production: the March planting season yields the primary bean harvest in May/June. As farmers in the mountainous regions of Haiti view the sudden drop in demand, they may invest less in their upcoming planting season, which will directly impact the yearly national supply of beans.
The damage to infrastructure primarily affected the bean import system, though also has implications for national production. As the principal port is damaged, and its limited functioning is essentially reserved for aid, imports of beans are blocked. Importers are in tune with local markets, and bring in American beans between Haitian bean harvests. In this way, importers have control over bean supply and prices. With ports blocked, they are unable to perform this important function.
The earthquake damaged irrigation systems of farms in only a few departments (West, South, South East and Nippes). Despite this loss, the March harvest of beans is expected to produce above average yields; a 2009 USAID program planted an additional 3000 hectares of beans in November. Additionally, following the 2008 cyclones many interventions focused on support to agriculture. As a result, the 2009 harvest has left farmers with about 3,000-5,000 tons of beans in reserves. In February there will be a bean harvest which is expected to yield average results – approximately 15,000 metric tons. Additionally, there is a reserve from 2009 production of between 3,000 and 5,000 tons.