An Iowa State University professor is now part of a government task force assigned to help rebuild Haiti’s agricultural system. I.S.U. sociologist Cornelia Flora was appointed to an advisory panel representing a division of the U.S. Agency for International Development that focuses on rural issues. Flora says the task force will counsel Haitian farmers on how to increase food production on their small plots.

“The earthquake has driven people from the major cities,” Flora says. “They’re going back to their lands, because almost every Haitian has an itty-bitty piece of land, which have degraded soils, enormous erosion because there’s been huge deforestation.” The 12-member panel will advise Haitian farmers on how to restore soil severely damaged in January’s earthquake.

The panel’s members come mostly from public universities. Flora has spent much of her 40-year career working on development issues in rural areas, primarily in Latin America. Flora says Iowa State offers some expertise that could be useful to the Haitians.

She says, “We have very good soil analytic capabilities that can help diagnose some of the soil problems and we also have a very strong sustainable ag program that can come up with alternative ways that small farmers can afford in dealing with these soil fertility problems.”

She says the task force will conduct its work from long-distance because the island nation of Haiti already has too many foreigners wandering around making judgments. Flora says the panel will meet for the first time next week in Orlando, Florida.