Haiti – Agriculture : 10 years of USAID’s Winner project, impressive results
The U.S. government, through the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID), is supporting the modernization of Haiti’s agriculture by introducing new agricultural practices, improved farming products, and innovative equipment to boost yields of important food crops and increase food security. On Haiti’s Agriculture Day, USAID commemorates its 10-year partnership with the Fondation Haïtienne de Développement Agricole Durable (FONDHAD) and its ongoing support to the Centre Rural de Développement Durable (CRDD) of Bas Boën, which has helped tens of thousands of Haitian farmers plant more productive and profitable beans, maize, and sorghum.
Established through USAID’s WINNER project in 2011, the Bas Boën CRDD has steadily grown over the last decade to become a beacon of innovation. It is now helping 5,000 farmers from 30 producer associations in the Plaine du Cul-de-Sac. The CRDD conducts training and applied research to help farmers use modern agriculture techniques, while providing essential agricultural services like soil and water testing, ploughing for soil preparation, and plant diagnostics. The Center also collaborates with research institutions and universities in the United States to help farmers better understand and manage their soil to adapt to climate change.
The most impressive results have come from the bean seed production program. It gives Haitian farmers access to improved bean seeds, which have more than doubled their yields from 400 kg per hectare to over 1,000 kg per hectare. This flagship intervention was created and supported by USAID’s partnership with FONDHAD and the Bas Boën CRDD, and now local farmers can buy high-yielding seeds and other inputs like fertilizer on credit and pay back their loans after their harvests.
“The most important aspect of this program is reliable access to quality seeds. And I am really happy that we will be able to continue with this program even after USAID’s support has ended” says Fred Luca, technical manager at FONDHAD. Nearly 140 farmers participate in the innovative seed production program, where farmers have the option to pay back their loan with beans from their harvest, which then get treated and stored for next year’s planting season, making the program self-sustaining. FONDHAD currently has 25 tons of seeds ready for next year’s planting.
As part of the seed production program, a network of master farmers manages demonstration plots where other farmers can see for themselves the results of the improved seeds. These master farmers, 30 percent of whom are women, also provide training and technical assistance to enrolled farmers to facilitate the adoption of these technologies. Adele Bellanton, one of the master farmers working with FONDHAD says: “I would encourage women to get into agriculture. FONDHAD is helping us modernize agriculture. Now we can even compete with imported products.”