In the West Province of Haiti, agriculture supplies a large portion of the food, but due to poor farming practices and unstable weather, food sources are insecure and food security has become more unstable since the earthquake. Farmers often do not have enough money to purchase food in addition to what they grow.
After the devastating earthquake in Haiti early this year, many people left the cities to stay with their farmer relatives in the countryside. With so many mouths to feed and not enough food available, the farmers were forced to give the visitors seeds to eat instead of saving them for the next planting season, creating a great shortage of seed to plant. Since agriculture is vital to long-term sustainable development, the first phase of the ADRA Agriculture project (our partners in the project are the Czech University of Agriculture and ADRA Czech Republic, and the Canadian Foodgrains Bank) was to distribute seed to supplement the farmers’ meagre supplies.
In June, we completed the distribution of sorghum seed, which is the most widely used cereal in Haiti, and the farmers have planted the seed. Two types of sorghum seed were distributed—a “short-term” and a “long-term” variety. Each has slightly different growth conditions, depending on the composition of soil and location of the farm.
In the second phase of the project, we are focusing on training community facilitators who will then spread what they learn throughout their communities. Ultimately, our direct beneficiaries will be 600 farming families. The community facilitators have already attended their first training session, which introduced them to the “Farmer Field School” methodology the project will use.
Petit Goave was affected by the earthquake that occurred on January 12, 2010 in Haiti, but as it is not near the capital, it was being under-served by humanitarian organizations. ADRA decided to work in Petit Goave because needs there were not being met.
ADRA Canada is partnering with local farming organizations in each of the sections of Petit Goave in which we are working. Each organization has provided us with land on which to build a training farm that will include a training field and a training centre where beneficiaries will be able to learn in both classroom-like and practical settings. The farmers will be able to practice and experiment with new techniques on the training field and compare them to the old techniques currently in use to see the improvement in crop growth and yield.
In early August, the local organizations finished fencing and clearing the fields. Each of the small trees that were cut to be used as fence posts will actually begin to grow again so the fence will eventually be a natural barrier of trees around the field.
Over the next two years, the farmers will be trained in topics such as seed saving, soil conservation and pest management. There will be an emphasis on organic farming so as not to create a dependency on expensive fertilizers.
Thank you for your continued support of ADRA Canada. You + ADRA = HOPE!
Christina Masching writes from Haiti on behalf of ADRA Canada