Marie Jerissia Justin is one of 1,500 master farmers certified through USAID/WINNER trainings who now serve as mentors and resources for other members of their communities. Forced to leave school in 9th grade due to lack of funding, Marie Jerissia continually struggled to support her four children. With a total fertility rate of 3.4 children born to a woman in her lifetime, well above the global average, Haiti’s national demographic makeup reflects the struggle of Haitian families to support themselves. Thirty-five percent of the population consists of children under the age of 15 and 72% of the population live on less than two dollars a day. These numbers, taken from the Population Reference Bureau’s 2012 World Population Data Sheet, paint an overwhelming picture of Haiti’s demographic challenge and help frame Marie Jérissia’s own trials.
Michel Dorlean’s story is one of perseverance and determination. Born in Furcy, Michel comes from a family of horticulturists. From an early age he started working with his father in the fields, planting and growing flowers. A mountainous area, planting in Furcy proved to be very difficult, and for years the family struggled to produce to their full potential. The earthquake of January 12, 2010 made life increasingly difficult for Michel and many flower producers in the area: prices dropped dramatically, forcing farmers to consider abandoning the industry for more profitable crops.
At the time of each rainy season, Alain Jean Camille has always feared for the well-being of his family, his livestock, and his plantations. As many people in the community, Alain produces crops such as corn, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and cabbage, and also owns a livestock farm – all of which have been affected in the past by floodings in the area. Since the Earthquake of January 12, 2010, in which he lost his mother, his fears have amplified because of the devastation suffered by his community. Alain and his family live in Saint Agarou, a small community of 12,000 inhabitants located in the Communal Section of Bellevue la Montagne in Petion-Ville (Eastern suburb of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital).
In collaboration with the Faculty of Agronomy of the State University of Haiti and the University of Florida, USAID-WINNER created the master farmers’ program to build the capacity of local producers and encourage the transfer of knowledge among farmers. Farmer associations propose a list of potential candidates, and those selected are trained to become “Master Farmers”. The training includes courses in: modern agriculture techniques and adaptation of these alternative techniques to the local conditions; sustainable environmental management; small farm management; and family planning. After graduation, master farmers are tasked with transferring their acquired knowledge to other farmers within their association, and throughout their community.
On Saturday, January 7, 2012, the ASOSYASYON CHANPYONS held the inaugural ‘’Mache Peyizan’’ Fair, a USAID-WINNER initiative allowing farmers to bring their produce directly to potential buyers. The ASOSYASYON CHANPYON is a label certifying that those products, vegetables, and fruits are grown according to agricultural and technical practices respectful of the environment. The Asosyasyon is composed of 214 farmer associations with a total of 84.000 members.