A new study by the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) says Haiti, along with the governments of Mexico, Central America, Panama and the Dominican Republic, has passed policy measures worth an average of 1.1 per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) in order to bring relief in the face of growing food insecurity and historic levels of inflation.
The Washington, D.C.-based financial institution said on Wednesday that over 62 million people in these countries experienced food insecurity following the pandemic.
“Recent food price hikes have intensified the problem, and a higher proportion of people are food insecure in this subregion than anywhere else in Latin America and the Caribbean,” the IDB said.
It said these are the findings of its study, “Food Security in Central America, Panama, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, and Haiti”.
The IDB said the study gives an overview of the region’s post-pandemic food security outlook, taking rising inflation into account.
The said the study also contains policy recommendations, with immediate and long-term ways, to shore up food security for families and affected industries.
The proposals include targeted transfers, food aid programs, support for the agricultural industry, and commercial measures.
In addition, the IDB said the report explores structural changes to bolster food systems and prevent future crises, like investing in public goods; access to agricultural finance; research, development and innovation in the sector; and more open international trade.
“These steps should incorporate a gender perspective into their design, since women are more vulnerable to the fallout from economic shocks,” the IDB said.
“While moderate to severe food insecurity in this region was already above the average for Latin America and the Caribbean, it has been exacerbated by the global inflationary escalation caused by the pandemic and the war between Russia and Ukraine, which has led to increases in the prices of basic goods,” it added.
In a typical country in the region, the IDB said over 40 percent of the consumption of corn, rice and wheat comes from imports.
The IDB said inflation has become the chief concern of households across the region.
It said the percentage of households whose income cannot cover the cost of basic food necessities is estimated to have risen by over 5 percentage points since 2019.
“Households headed by women or informal workers and rural households have borne the brunt of this trend,” the IDB said.