March 26, 2010—The USA Rice Federation announced today that Operation USA has been chosen as the beneficiary of $15,850 worth of rice purchased with funds donated during a monthlong USA Rice fundraising drive for humanitarian–relief efforts in Haiti. Operation USA assists developing communities in the United States and abroad in addressing problems relating to natural and man-made disasters and chronic poverty.
”Rice industry members have responded with great generosity to help the people of Haiti recover from the earthquake,” USA Rice Federation President and CEO Betsy Ward said Thursday. ”Since the tragedy struck, USA Rice member companies and affiliated organizations have donated funds and/or rice valued at an additional $653,000 for Haitian relief efforts, the largest amount ever donated by the U.S. rice industry toward an international humanitarian-relief effort,” Ward said.
Haiti was the fifth-largest U.S. rice market in 2009, importing 276,000 metric tons (MT) of its 400,000 MT consumption from the United States. Beginning in 1980, Haiti’s rice production began to decline just as its population exploded — growing from 5.7 million in 1980 to 10.2 million today. For the past five years, the country’s domestic rice production has averaged 100,000 MT — just one-quarter of its current annual rice consumption, which necessitates increased rice imports. Haiti’s lack of arable land and the need for investment in agricultural production have also contributed significantly to its inability to produce enough rice to fill the country’s needs.
Immediately after the January earthquake, the U.S. rice industry began working with officials at the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide information on rice available in country and in position for export that could be procured for relief efforts. This swift action resulted in providing much needed food for many thousands of Haitians.
“The U.S. rice industry has long had a positive trade relationship with Haiti,” USA Rice Chairman Jamie Warshaw said. “The outpouring of goodwill for the Haitian people during this disaster has been tremendous. The rice industry has rallied behind relief efforts and will continue to do so as Haiti recovers from this tragedy.”