Haiti is among the largest markets for U.S. Southern long-grain milled rice. It is also the poorest nation in the Western Hemisphere and is subject to chronic food insecu- rity. Haiti rst opened its market to rice imports in 1986 and again in 1995, reducing tariffs on rice imports to 3 percent. Haiti’s rice imports now account for 80 percent of consumption. Imports also allowed per capita food availability to rise by 11 percent between 1985 and 2011. Efforts are underway to improve agricultural performance, but even with signi cant productivity gains, Haiti is likely to continue to rely on imports of U.S. rice.
Once a special food consumed on Sunday, rice has become the main staple of the Haitian diet, especially among low-income people. Imported rice accounts for the vast bulk (83 percent) of consumption. Current imports total some 380,000 tons annually, at a cost of $200 million a year. The irrigated Artibonite Valley region is, by far, the main rice production area in Haiti, accounting for up to 80 percent of national production.
This rapid assessment of the Haitian rice value chain was originally prepared in support of Oxfam America’s livelihoods program, to “develop options for a program to support small-scale rice producers so as to improve household income and enhance the country’s food security” (From the assignment terms of reference).