Minimal irrigation infrastructure, unverified seed quality, decreasing sales prices. These are only a few of the challenges affecting farmers near Gonaives, Haiti. Even in the face of these obstacles, they remain undaunted.
Sadrack, an experienced farmer, says, “I am not going to be stopped!”
He raises pigs, grows spinach and has established 1,450 banana trees since June 2016. His increased production has allowed him to hire a neighbor. Sadrack’s farming techniques are examples of the agricultural technologies and management practices that Rise Against Hunger will begin promoting through our Siloe Agricultural Development Initiative. He has divided his spinach field into four sections, and plants each section one week after the next. This ensures that it ripens at different times and does not arrive at market when the price is lowest. To conserve rainwater for the banana trees, Sadrack digs dykes around sections of the field to prevent run-off.
When Rise Against Hunger launched the Siloe Agricultural Development Initiative almost two years ago, we hoped to serve as a catalyst to create sustainable access to healthy food for school children and community members like Sadrack.
In alignment with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #2, the project goals include:
- Increased agricultural productivity and incomes of smallholder farmers by providing training on best practices
- Increased farming skills for children and youth through coursework and practical training
Rise Against Hunger’s partner, Hearts and Hands for Haiti (HHH) and their in-country, Haitian-led organization, Siloe Mission, have worked for years to establish schools and faith communities in Artibonite Department. Having received Rise Against Hunger meals since 2010, HHH has taken the first steps to food self-sufficiency at the Siloe Mission school and children’s home.
Under the Siloe Agricultural Development Initiative, Rise Against Hunger collaborated with HHH to set up a five acre farm, drill two wells for irrigation and build an aquaculture system to produce fish and leafy greens. The farm has already established thousands of seedlings, which were either planted on site, sold or donated to other agricultural projects in the area.
But Rise Against Hunger and HHH did not stop there.
Agronomist Telson Eloi teaches introductory agricultural theory and practice to adolescents, some of whom have already applied the knowledge to their own own households.
One student said, “I’ve planted trees to reforest my house.”
Another started his own home garden, planting onions, shallots and leeks. A third stated that he taught his father what he learned at the classes so that they can farm better.
Eloi can also be found interacting with the local community. He visits farmers and shares knowledge on best practices for pest control, soil health and water management. Building trust with farmers is a crucial component for the project’s next stage. In the first quarter of 2018, Eloi plans to establish 12 farmer groups and provide a year-long training curriculum designed to reduce the costs of agricultural inputs and increase food production. Farming leaders like Sadrack will be instrumental to convening farmers in field schools and demonstrating new techniques.
Many factors affect whether the harvest will be good or bad, but with more knowledge, farmers can respond better to risks like irregular rainfall, infestations and poor seed quality. Siloe Mission’s production of vegetables has already increased access to healthy food for the school children. By adding training for farmers in 2018, Rise Against Hunger and HHH will enable households to more regularly eat healthy, filling meals and earn additional income to meet family expenses.