CUL DE SAC
Because the Cul-de-Sac corridor is part of the greater Port-au-Prince area, where 80% of the country’s economic activity takes place, it has a central role in the development of Haiti. The Cul-de-Sac plain is one of the main productive plains in Haiti and it is vulnerable to flooding. In addition, urban sprawl has been encroaching on productive agricultural land. Here are also significant areas of land that lie fallow due to the abandonment of large scale sugar cane production. These lands can be revitalized for high value agriculture. The hillside areas of Kenscoff and Petionville are also important zones for developing sustainable agriculture and agro-forestry activities that can protect the productive plains as well as increase rural incomes. Finally, the mountainous areas of the Cul-de-Sac corridor are heavily eroded, with many ravines and steep slopes. They endanger the productive plain with the risk of flooding and sedimentation.
B. Strategy for the Cul-de-Sac Corridor
In the Cul-de-Sac corridor, WINNER’s strategy, in light of the contract modification is to:
- Consolidate WINNER’s results to date;
- Increase rural incomes through agricultural modernization;
- Protect the productive plain;
- Foster value chain integration through effective PPAs;
- Transition towards sustainability by building the capacity of farmer associations and local institutions;
- Ensure good corridor governance through the preparation of watershed management plans and capacity building; and
- Increase food security through improved agricultural productivity for the local market.
PROGRESS TO DATE
Establishment of Sustainable Development Centers (CRDD) in all WINNER regions: In the Cul-de-Sac corridor, WINNER has established sustainable rural development centers (CRDDs) in Bas-Boen, Kenscoff, and Duvier (near Petionville). CRDDs are organized as demonstration and training centers, independently managed by committees that include representatives of the MARNDR, local governments, and producer groups. CRDDs are essential to training master farmers; introducing new varieties, like the Pioneer and Monsanto hybrid corn; demonstrating new techniques, like protected and vertical agriculture in low-cost green house on the Wynne farm in Kenscoff; and disseminating modern equipment like the urea-briquette machine in Bas Boen.
The Bas Boen and Kenscoff centers are already catalysts for change in their respective zones and the Bas Boen CRDD, was inaugurated on May 1st 2011 and will become a model for training and demonstration of best farming practices at the national level.
Implementation of Agriculural Campaigns: To date, WINNER has supported four agricultural campaigns in the Cul-de-Sac corridor (Winter 2009, Spring and Winter 2010, and Spring 2011). In this corridor, we have assisted close to 5,000 farmers working on nearly 4,000 hectares. This partnership enabled farmers to benefit from mechanized plowing and harrowing, which is cheaper and more efficient than the traditional, man-based technique applied for soil preparation. WINNER provided a technical package to participants, including extension services through more than 200 young agronomists, and access to agricultural inputs in farmer stores managed by producer organizations. The overall results were remarkable: on average 75% productivity increase, with peaks at 118% for maize and 139% for sorghum.
Agro-forestry activities: We developed and implemented a vast agro-forestry program as a key feature of WINNER interventions in order to help small farmers plant mainly fruit trees that will rapidly generate incomes. The goal is to expand the perennial cover on hillsides to reduce erosion and improve soil conservation, while promoting alternative energies to lower the demand for charcoal and fuel wood. We worked with farmer associations in priority in areas where we can combine agro-forestry activities with ravine treatments to reduce run-offs and stabilize eroded hillsides.
Master Farmer Training: As of September 2011, nearly 700 Master Farmers have graduated from the program there are close to 1,200 Master Farmer candidates in training. Thus, we have trained close to 2,000 farmers in four basic courses (agriculture, environment, small farm management and family planning), as well as specialized courses (cereals, vegetables, soil conservation, etc.). Candidates were presented by farmer associations and passed a test to take the courses. We also selected, and gave scholarships to, eight Haitians enrolled in a 2-year master’s program at the University of Florida in various disciplines, including agribusiness development, food technology, environmental management, etc.
Technical Innovation: We teamed up with the University of Florida to introduce technical breakthroughs and modernize Haitian agriculture. Experts from the UF analyzed 1200 soil samples, designed fruit processing centers, and set up the first low-cost, green house with drip irrigation in Kenscoff. This technique of protected and vertical agriculture can generate more money per year on 70 m2 than a farmer usually makes on one hectare with traditional practices. This innovative technology will free up spaces on hillsides for soil conservation and agro-forestry in the broader landscape. We also set up the first briquette machine for deep urea placement that reduces fertilizer consumption by 25%.
One of the most successful and spectacular innovations was the introduction of SRI (System of Rice Intensification), which is a new technique that significantly increases rice yields with less seeds (20%), less water (70%) and less fertilizers (50%). It is based on 5 principles: i) early transplantation of rice seedlings (one week); ii) transplantation of one slip only per seedling; iii) frequent weeding; iv) utilization of compost to provide organic matter to the soil; v) drainage of rice fields to maintain soils humid but not submerged. First results show that yields increased from 2.5 T/ha on average to 4.5 T/ha, with a peak at 11 T/ha in Bayonnais and Mirebalais. Net farmer income jumped from $933/ha to $1,913/ha. With SRI, we introduced the conic weeding machine, unknown in Haiti, to clean rice fields more rapidly and more effectively. One of the clear results of this technical innovation is to drastically cut production costs and make Haitian rice very competitive compared to imported rice.