Innovative seed replacement program helps farmers in Haiti
By Jennifer Browning
The International Fund for Agricultural Development and the Food and Agriculture Organization have combined efforts in a $10.2 million effort to distribute and multiply quality seeds in Haiti in order to significantly increased food production, making cheaper food accessible and boosting farmers’ incomes, according to Sylvie Wabbes, a senior emergency operations officer with the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization.
Wabbes told United Press International that this program is the first major U.N. effort to forestall hunger in the Haitian farmer communities and had already recorded success.
Project Medishare has also been working toward boosting agriculture in the Central Plateau.
In May 2008, Project Medishare began experimenting with 20 of the 220 Earth Boxes which were donated to Project Medishare by the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO). In partnership with Project Medishare and The Global Institute at the University of Miami, the Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida (IFAS) has been providing technical assistance for the agricultural program. The program is an effort to begin an alternative growing program for the vulnerable (elders, sick, handicapped), children and adolescents. Thanks to Project Medishare’s Agronomist, Ronal Bien-aimé and IFAS’s Florence Sergile the Earth Boxes experiment proved to be a success and has expanded from the trial garden to the clinic in Marmont so visitors and patients can see the possibilities of alternative gardening, and the link between nutrition and good health.
Through the agriculture program Project Medishare has also been providing training to local farmers. Demonstrations and trainings were done for local women at the trial farm as well as in the community. This past October five vegetable nurseries were established in the nearby surrounding communities of Cadichon, Savane Moise, Calabate and Savane Longue. In November the agricultural team offered women training in food processing and home economics.
In January, IDEJEN (Young Idea), a group of 25 adolescents also were included in the community expansion of the Earth Box experience. IDEJEN assisted Project Medishare’s agriculture team by receiving hands on training with 25 Earth Boxes.With the success of the Earth Box experience, Project Medishare will continue to keep Haiti’s youth involved by implementing the program in five schools located in Thomonde and Marmont in order to establish and promote positive links between good health and agricultural production.