Haiti is one of the least developed countries in the world and has faced many challenges in its development process due to its vulnerability to natural disasters and fragility. The frequent natural disasters are particularly devastating because they directly affect the large share of the population that lives in rural areas and depends on agriculture as a primary livelihood source. Approximately 50 percent of Haiti’s population of 10 million currently reside in rural areas, and according to recent figures about 70.7 and 53.9 percent of rural households are poor (income of less than $1.98 per day) or extremely poor (income of less than $1.00 per day). Haiti’s rural population remains one of the most food insecure in the world. Ecological challenges, rapid population growth, and high import dependency, combined with the devastating effects of the 2010 earthquake, have exacerbated an already dire food insecurity situation, and revitalization of the agricultural sector has become a foremost priority of the Haitian government. The nonfarm sector in Haiti is also important for the rural economy and contributes to improved livelihoods of rural households.
The objective of this report is to examine the linkages between rural economic activity, food insecurity and poverty in Haiti as a means of determining the barriers to rural development. e analysis draws on a newly available set of household- level living standards measurement data collected in 2012 (ECVMAS). About 70.7 percent of all rural households are poor, and education levels are low with an average of 2.8 years of education for the household head. Agriculture dominates economic activity (78 percent of all households are involved in agricultural activities), although almost 25 percent of the agricultural households supplement their agricultural income by engaging also in some type of nonfarm activity. Overall nonfarm activity participation (including households that engage in agricultural activities and households that do not) is reported at 46 percent. Nonfarm activities can be related to agriculture upstream (input supply) or downstream (value-adding and processing), or they can be unrelated to the sector (retailing). This report identifies the main factors of production that correlate with increased productivity in the agricultural sector and examines the determinants of nonfarm participation, poverty and food security within rural Haiti.