USAID Launches Five Year Initiative to Promote Agriculture in Northern Haiti

  • Posted on: 25 June 2013
  • By: Bryan Schaaf
News: 

Below is an announcement concerning the launch of a five year project, as part of USAID's Feed the Future Initiative, to bolster agriculture in northern Haiti.  In addition to nuts and bolts such as preventing erosion and promoting irrigation, the project will also expand the access of farmers to new(er) technologies such as mobile money.  The $87.8 million project will be led by Development Alternatives Inc (DAI) with Haitian firms Agridey and AgroConsult sub-contracting.  

 

USAID launches five-year project to boost farmer incomes and promote local organizations in northern Haiti

 

The U.S. Agency for International Development yesterday launched the Feed the Future North (FTFN) project which is supported by USAID under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiative. The new FTFN is an innovative project to spur economic growth in promising agricultural areas in northern Haiti while at the same time developing local firms to be direct USAID partners. FTFN was developed in cooperation with the Government of Haiti Ministry of Agriculture. It aims to increase agricultural incomes for at least 40,000 rural households in northern Haiti, expand financial services to local agribusinesses, stabilize watersheds that support farmland, and improve roads in some of the most fertile but inaccessible farming areas. A key project component aims to increase the number of local Haitian firms who participate as direct contracting partners. “The North is a key region of Haiti. Working here on food security benefits the entire country. We will be working alongside the Ministry of Agriculture to increase agricultural production and improve farmers’ lives,” said Ambassador to Haiti Pamela A. White at the project’s announcement, which was also attended by Haiti President Michel Martelly.

 

The new Feed the Future North is a five-year, $88 million project that will focus on expanding farmers’ yields of primarily five key crops – corn, beans, rice, plantains and cocoa. The program is innovative. In addition to traditional farmer support, erosion protection, and investments in agricultural infrastructure, it will seek to employ new technology – including mobile money – to make it easier for farmers and agribusinesses to manage their transactions, and cellphones to transmit market and other information beneficial to farmers. The project will ensure that both women and men benefit from FTFN interventions. FTFN comes on the heels of the successful Feed the Future West (FTFW) project that has reached more than 30,000 farmers to date in the Cul-de-Sac and St. Marc corridors outside of Port-au-Prince. The project has introduced improved seeds, fertilizer, and new technologies that have helped participating farmers substantially increase their crop yields and augment their gross incomes from some $200 per hectare to more than $1,100 per hectare. Additionally, in the wake of the 2012 drought and storms, FTFW contributed to the U.S. Government response to increased food insecurity in Haiti by rehabilitating important irrigation systems that were damaged by the storms.

 

The new Feed the Future North is projected to fund an additional approximately $40 million in local subcontracts and grants to Haitian implementing partners to support a Haitian-led process and to ensure the project’s long-term sustainability. These local partners will be charged with carrying out the project’s work for years to come. “Agriculture is fundamental to Haiti’s economy,” said Mark Anthony White, Acting Mission Director of USAID/Haiti. “But to be effective, assistance must develop resilience, especially in Haiti where farmers are exposed to adversities such as flooding, drought and earthquakes. The Feed the Future North project is designed to do just that. It will help Haitians put in place local systems and infrastructure to help small farmers and the overall agribusiness to be successful. “The project will also unleash the potential of some excellent farming areas.”

 

FTFN will cover six watersheds in the North and Northeast departments: Limbé, Haut du Cap, Grande Rivière du Nord, Trou du Nord, Marion and Jassa. It will be implemented by DAI as the lead contractor and a subcontracting team that includes Haitian firms Agridey and AgroConsult, the female-owned small business Making Cents, and Haitian-American small business PHS. The project will be led by Chief of Party Cristian Juliard, who has 35 years of international experience, including significant experience in Haiti. He will be supported by Deputy Chief of Party Joanas Gué, a former Haitian Minister of Agriculture with 25 years of experience in food security and program development in Haiti.

 

Anticipated Results

 

1) Doubling agricultural incomes for 40,000 households in Northern Haiti;

 

2) Doubling export volume for cocoa produced by supported farmers; and

 

3) Introducing productivity enhancing technologies, rehabilitating/ building agricultural and flood-control infrastructure, strengthening local institutions, and building critical agricultural skills.

Comments

Port-au-Prince, Haiti – USAID/Haiti launched a four-year food security program today to improve nutrition and access to locally produced foods for the most vulnerable households in Haiti. The project, the Kore Lavi Program, is part of the U.S. Government’s global hunger and food security initiatives Feed the Future and Title II. These programs work with USAID’s partner countries around the world to develop their agriculture sectors and reduce food insecurity. It will be implemented by CARE International. Food production and the means to purchase sufficient food are two key factors that negatively impact the food security of Haitians. Solutions must include effective mechanism to help identify and assist people suffering from food insecurity. The Kore Lavi Program directly supports the Government of Haiti to establish a voucher-based safety-net system to increase poor households’ access to food and prevent malnutrition in children under 2 years of age. The program is expected to reach approximately 250,000 households by providing food vouchers, improving maternal and child health and nutrition knowledge, strengthening links between households and health systems, and improving the quality of health and nutrition services.
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This program will work to build the capacity of key government institutions, women, and local civil society stakeholders to more effectively coordinate, monitor, and support food security and social assistance programming in Haiti. USAID will help develop and institutionalize a national database system within the Government of Haiti’s Ministry of Social Affairs and Labor to target vulnerable households. Food security is a priority for the U.S. Government development strategy in Haiti. In FY 2013, USAID is providing over $38 million for emergency and development food assistance in Haiti.

The Guardian

The government is promoting the cultivation of a tree rich in vitamins, minerals and calcium to tackle food insecurit Rich in vitamins, potassium and calcium, Haiti is promoting the moringa tree to address the country's chronic malnutrition. The poorest country in the western hemisphere, 75% of Haiti's population lives on less than $2 a day, half on less than $1 a day, according to the UN World Food Programme. It imports 80% of its rice and more than half of all its food, despite 60% of Haitians working in agriculture. An estimated 7 million of the 10 million population are food insecure and USAid estimates that up to 30% of children are chronically malnourished. USAid continues to roll out its $88m five-year Feed the Future North project that looks to expand farmers' yields of primarily five key crops – corn, beans, rice, plantains and cocoa. Meanwhile, Haiti has rediscovered moringa oleifera, native to India but commonly found in sub-Saharan Africa, as the miracle crop under its very nose, after its forgotten introduction to the country a century ago.
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Locally known as doliv or benzoliv, moringa olifeira is rich in vitamins A, B, C, D and E while containing minerals plus calcium, potassium and protein. The leaves can be eaten raw, sauteed with oil and garlic or added to rice and stews. As Haiti continues its reconstruction after the 2010 earthquake and 2012 hurricanes, the moringa tree could also provide shade for coffee plantations, according to Michel Chancy, the secretary of state for animal production. Coffee provides the main source of income for more than 100,000 farmers while crucially sustaining much of the remaining tree cover – less than 1.5% of land – according to the Clinton Foundation, which is redeveloping the role of coffee in Haiti's economy. Chancy says the government's moringa campaign has targeted 500 schools in recent months, including the use of nursery gardens to promote moringa's benefits and cultivation. A National Moringa Day was held on 5 June. The tree's nuts can be grilled and eaten like chocolate, while powdered moringa leaves are given to people with HIV and Aids, says Chancy.
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In Senegal and Mali, moringa is used to combat rickets. The plant is estimated to contain twice the protein and calcium content of milk, several times the potassium of bananas, more iron than spinach and several times the vitamin C of oranges. Moringa's high vitamin A content, almost four times that of carrots, is recognised as a potent micronutrient source to achieve the 2015 millennium development goal to reduce child mortality by two-thirds. Worldwide, an estimated 670,000 children die annually from Vitamin A deficiency. In Haiti, moringa's role could also be vital for rearing goats and chickens, increasing milk production, and for fish farming, said Chancy. Yet the government faces a challenge to increase the planting of moringa and is trying to provide risk capital to further develop moringa plantations. Timote Georges, of the Smallholder Farmers' Alliance, says his members are crucial in cultivating moringa but need better processing techniques and market access for their products.

From 2009 until 2013, corn yields increased 448 percent, rice yields increased 139 percent, bean yields increased 94 percent, and plantain yields by 56 percent. Michel Dorlean, a Haitian flower producer, grew up learning the family business by planting flowers on traditional hillside plots in the mountainous village of Furcy, near Port-au-Prince. But the hillside locations leave flowers vulnerable to excessive heat, wind, humidity and rain. Dorlean used to lose more than 8 percent of his yields to weather. In 2011, however, his battered flower pots flourished into a profitable business thanks to an initiative by Feed the Future West (FTF West), a USAID project that started in 2009 under the U.S. Government’s flagship food security initiative, Feed the Future. Dorlean’s success was made possible by switching the planting location to greenhouses. The project, which introduced the new growing method to farmers in Furcy, also provides entrepreneurship training, which has allowed farmers to create trade connections and market their products more efficiently.
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Since June 2012, the FTF West project has also allowed beneficiaries and public-private partners to share their experiences with the general public on the radio-TV network Métropole. The program, “Agriculture, Business of the Future,” showcases agricultural techniques advocated by the project in collaboration with government entities and private sector partners. The station broadcasts from Port-au-Prince, the country's capital. After appearing on the show, Dorlean received 75 phone calls and visits from people of various backgrounds, including businessmen and women, managers and owners of flower shops, farmers and farmer associations. He was also able to sell his entire greenhouse flower stock from the previous season. “I remember that, after the program on technical innovations in June 2012, I was so surprised by the effect it had on people. We had so many visits, not to mention a rapid increase in sales,” he said.
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Emmanuel Pierre, director of the Champion Cooperative of Kenscoff/Petionville, a farmers’ cooperative that includes all area farmer associations, has also seen the benefits of appearing in an episode on marketing. “The opportunities we have today stem mainly from my participation on the project’s radio/television program. Now we are developing solid partnerships with entrepreneurs who contacted us after seeing the show.” Pierre’s sales of agricultural products immediately increased by 15 percent for the farmers in the cooperative. And the cooperative recently signed a contract with Snack Fresh, a company that produces potato chips, for two tons of potatoes per week for $1,271 (55,000 gourdes) per ton. “This program has had a huge impact on farmers," said Ronald Champagne, president of the Association of Progressive Citizens for the Development of Duvivier, an association of farmers producing mainly corn and beans. "Since our involvement on Radio Télé Métropole, many have expressed interest in joining our association. Many entrepreneurs have also called us to discuss potential collaboration opportunities."
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As of January 2014, the “Agriculture, Business of the Future” show has aired 24 episodes on television and eight on the radio, with more than 60,000 viewers and 225,000 listeners. USAID’s agriculture assistance through Feed the Future in Haiti has improved farmers’ crop yields significantly, increasing their incomes and improving their quality of life. From 2009 until 2013, corn yields increased 448 percent, rice yields increased 139 percent, bean yields increased 94 percent, and plantain yields by 56 percent. Haiti has faced significant food security and nutrition challenges for several decades. Chronically high levels of poverty coupled with soil erosion, declining agricultural productivity, and high population growth combine to make obtaining adequate food a daily struggle for many Haitians. It is estimated that in some departments of the country, up to 30 percent of children suffer from chronic malnutrition. FTF West, which ends in May 2014, promotes agricultural production, natural resource management, and a modern post-harvest and marketing system. In June 2013, USAID launched the Feed the Future North project, a five-year project designed to spur economic growth in promising agricultural areas in northern Haiti while developing local firms to be direct USAID partners.

Leo Andres Pablo Julson lost his mother at the age of 10, an event that marked him deeply. He was forced to quit school shortly after her death to help his father in the fields and remembers working long hours by his side. Their hard work did not pay off as they would have liked in rural Haiti—life as a farmer was difficult and their agricultural production remained low. Today, as a rice farmer, Julson has seen a dramatic improvement in his family’s way of life. Thanks to a USAID-funded project, Feed the Future (FTF) West, Julson is now a self-confident farmer filled with hope for the future. FTF West is a five-year project in Haiti that started under the U.S. Government’s flagship global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future.
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Before the arrival of the FTF West project, Julson was one of many farmers whose rice yields barely reached 2 tons per hectare. But after using the System of Rice Intensification (SRI), a method of rice cultivation that has been adopted in 40 countries, Julson's yields more than doubled. The method allows farmers to double their yields while using fewer seeds and significantly less water and fertilizers. The principles of SRI include good soil preparation, adequate space between plants, using one seed per pocket, intermittent irrigation, weeding between rows, and organic fertilizer. This results in strong roots and vigorous plants that engender high yields. “I would have never imagined that it was possible for me to harvest 5 to 6 tons of rice on one single hectare of land—it’s such an extraordinary feat for me,” said Julson.
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Since 2011, this increase in yields has generated revenues of more than $1,000 each planting season—double what Julson made in previous seasons. “My family’s living condition has greatly improved, and now I can hope for a better future for my son, including allowing him to have a good quality education. I have also been able to acquire a motorcycle, which has made life easier for my family and allows me to transport produce more easily,” said Julson, who sells the rice locally. As a certified master farmer and member of the Federation for the Development of the Thomazeau Plain, a farmers’ association, Julson is working hard to promote the SRI technique among farmers in his community.
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“This experience has proven to me that we farmers can once again believe in agriculture and that we are also capable of helping improve the environment in the country,” he said. The SRI method was first introduced by the FTF West project in 2010 in selected areas, including the Cul-de-Sac plain where Julson lives. The project prepared demonstration plots to illustrate to farmers the superior results of SRI. With a traditional rice plot planted next to one using the new SRI technique, farmers were able to witness firsthand the difference in yields produced. The FTF West project worked with about 1,500 farmers using SRI. For rice farmers alone, the gross margin per hectare increased from $350 to $1,691.
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For the rice farmers in FTF West’s intervention areas, this difference represents the potential for a better future and improved way of life. With the work of successful farmers like Julson who are helping to promote the techniques within their communities, farmers will continue to see improved futures and living conditions, even after the FTF West project ends in May 2014. Farmers benefiting from the FTF West project have seen yields increase in other areas as well. From 2009 until 2013, corn yields increased 448 percent, bean yields increased 94 percent, and plantain yields by 56 percent.

May 2014—In northern Haiti's Acul du Nord, one of the communes receiving assistance under a USAID agriculture program, a path through a lush forest leads to an opening where 25 farmers—women and men—sing energetically as they worked together to create a new cocoa plantation. While the farmers sing motivating songs, they mark the ground with wooden sticks to identify locations for the trees, preparing the ground for cocoa seedlings. They are going to plant trees of the Criollo variety, which produces cocoa to make some of the most exclusive chocolates in the world. “A seedling takes about three years to become a mature tree that produces pods ready to be picked,” said Dominique Jean Raoul, a cocoa specialist working on the USAID project. “These trees will produce high-quality cocoa, which can be exported to other countries, bringing back needed income.”
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This is good news for farmers in Haiti, where half the population lives on less than $1.25 per day. And while approximately 60 percent of Haitians work in agriculture, up to half of Haiti’s food is imported. Although quality cocoa can sell for a high price, previously, Haitian cocoa rarely met international standards and failed to attract the high-end export market. “In the past, we planted cocoa but did not use good farming methods,” said one of the women farmers in Acul du Nord. “This program is teaching us important techniques, such as how to prepare the land and take care of the trees, and how to treat the beans to get the best flavor. Now we can get higher yield and produce better quality.” Feed the Future North, this five-year, $88 million USAID project, works together with Haiti's Ministry of Agriculture of Haiti with the aim to double agricultural incomes for at least 40,000 rural households in northern Haiti. The project will develop partnerships with private sector entities that support farmers’ groups.
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Cocoa is one of the project's target crops in addition to corn, beans, rice and plantains. For cocoa alone, the program aims to double the exports of 10,000 farmers. Through the project, farmers in the north, where most of Haiti’s cocoa is produced, receive training in agricultural methods and soil conservation, acquire high-quality seeds and seedlings, and receive assistance in trading and marketing their product. USAID supports the project under Feed the Future, the U.S. Government’s flagship global hunger and food security initiative.
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“For the best flavor, the cocoa beans should be fermented,” said Mesidor F. Herolde, a farmers’ community representative in Acul du Nord, while opening a cocoa pod to show the beans that nestle in a white, jellylike matter. He enthusiastically explained the different cocoa varieties (Criollo is considered to be the most delicious), how the cocoa plant needs shade to thrive, and how seedlings (rather than seeds) are the fastest method to grow the cocoa tree. He is one of the USAID-trained farmers who is gaining expertise in cocoa farming. While Herolde and other farmers under this project can expect to improve their livelihoods, they are also acquiring knowledge and skills they will benefit from long after the project has come to an end. The Feed the Future North program, which runs from April 2013 to March 2018, will fund an additional $40 million in local subcontracts and grants to Haitian organizations to ensure that the project is led by Haitians and will provide long-term improvements to Haiti’s agriculture.

Peanut farmers in the Peasant’s Association of Savanne Longue in Haiti had a very productive 2014 growing season. In part, this was the culmination of years of collaboration between an array of government, university, civil society, and private sector partners on food security. For the past three years, Missouri-based non-profit Meds & Food for Kids – which sources nutritious food aid products from local Haitians – has worked with farmers in the peasant association to develop their peanut production and improve the quality of their products. A key component of this effort was the construction of a secure depot and drying area, built by local volunteers and made possible with funds from the U.S. Agency for International Development. The depot has allowed the farmers to effectively distribute seed, fertilizer, fungicide and other inputs as well as helped them consolidate their peanuts at harvest time.
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But without strong business skills or access to capital, the farmers participating in this income-generating project had limited prospects for expansion. So Meds & Food for Kids began a partnership with the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Peanut Productivity and Mycotoxin Control, led by the University of Georgia, and Acceso Peanut Corporation, a for-profit supply chain company, with financial support from the Clinton Guistra Enterprise Partnership. Acceso offers commercial supply chain services for peanut farmers, such as training, tillage vouchers, seed and fungicide, and services such as drying, storage and aflatoxin testing through contract farming. During the 2014 season, Acceso expanded its operations from Haiti’s Central Plateau, working through the Savanne Longue depot and increasing the number of farmers in the contracted group to 150. Through this model, farmers enjoy a guaranteed buyer relationship with Acceso, which is then able to sell its products to Meds & Food for Kids for a profit.
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In Haiti, seed is often measured volumetrically using a #10 can, about the size of a large metal coffee can. Using this metric, Acceso technician Jean Baptiste Ano reports that production increased dramatically in 2014: “This year we saw that farmers who used to plant 10 to 15 cans of seed peanuts and harvest only 20 to 25 cans were planting the same amount, but harvesting 200 or even 250 cans.” These increases were achieved through improved seed varieties, coordinated planting, timely fungicide applications, and farmer training. While not all farmers in the program had such significant yield increases, farmers did achieve a 30 percent increase in income on average. This public-private collaboration has also resulted in a major increase in local procurement by Meds & Food for Kids for the production of peanut-based nutritional foods, including Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Foods. For the past four years, the organization was able to procure a maximum of 30 metric tons of peanut products each year, but in 2014, 50 metric tons were procured from Acceso farmers alone. Such a substantial change shows great promise to build a sustainable and profitable peanut value chain in Haiti that benefits farmers and improves food security for Haiti’s most vulnerable populations.

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