Friday, April 11, 2008

Food prices add to Haitians' struggles

Rising global food prices are only adding to Haiti's problems.

The Caribbean island is already one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere (Haiti's annual per capita income is only $480). Now a sharp increase in world food prices is driving many Haitians to the brink of starvation. Since the middle of last year food prices have gone up by 40%. To make matters worse much of Haiti's farmland has been damaged by tropical storms, erosion and deforestation, making the country reliant on imported food.

The crisis could force President Rene Preval from power. Gunshots were heard in the capital as he addressed the country on the food crisis. His plan to provide government loans to farmers, if even effective, will not produce any results until the harvest season months from now.

Meanwhile Haitians will continue "eating Clorox" - local slang comparing the burning feeling of hunger pains to that you would get from drinking bleach.
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