The 115 mile per hour winds and torrential rains that accompanied Hurricane Sandy in the fall of 2012 devastated the Haitian landscape and left loss and destruction in its wake. When the floodwaters cleared, the Groupe Femme Vaillante de Cotin Thomazeau (GFVCT), a women's farmer association in Thomazeau that manages an input supply store (BIA), found its entire stockof bean seeds and fertilizers destroyed.
With the winter bean agricultural campaign approaching, GFVCT and its 150 women farmerswere left with no way to generate revenues and no source of quality inputs to offer local farmers for the campaign. The Feed the Future West/WINNER project worked with the association to find a solution that would both facilitate GFVCT’s recovery while simultaneously building its capacity and ensuringits farmers were well-supported. By subsidizing bean seed and fertilizer purchases and offering training in financial and inventory management, FTF West/WINNER provided GFVCT with critical tools necessary to overcome the hurricane’s aftermath.Lucienne Thomas, president of GFVCT, recognizes the success local farmers saw due to the project’s investment, saying: “The BIA sold all the bean seeds in preparation for the winter bean campaign of 2012-2013, for a total amount of 616,000 gourdes (approximately $14,000). Farmers were eager to plant after Sandy,and their bean crops had good results because the seeds were of very good quality.” GFVCT planted 8.5 hectares of beans, with yields of 1.1 T/ha (compared to 600 kg/ha – their yield prior to receiving technical assistance from FTF West/WINNER). The bean season is crucial for farmers’ livelihoods in the Cul-de-Sac region and represents an income of $1,400 per hectare for participating farmers. With this increased income, farmers are able to pay for school fees and purchase better quality food andclothing for their families.
Isnel Pierreval grew up in Delmas in a household headed by his mother, the only breadwinner in the family. Thanks to the hard work and many sacrifices made by his mother and grandmother, he was able to go to school in Haiti, where he studied to be an applied economist. Isnel is one of the eight Haitian students that were selected by USAID’s Feed the Future West/WINNER project to pursue an advanced Master’s degree at the University of Florida in Gainesville. The students completed degrees in the areas of Agriculture, Economics, and Environmental Resources.
After three years of English study, master’s coursework, and the successful acceptance of his thesis, Isnel has been an emblem of success for the program as a result of his academic achievements. While in Florida, Isnel achieved a 3.94 GPA, membership into the Agriculture Honors Society, and was offered a full scholarship to pursue a PhD at the University of Florida.
After twelve years of unsuccessful production, Luckner Dorméus had given up hope of generating enough income from potato farming to support his family of seven. The 47-year-old native of Goyavier, in the commune of St. Marc, struggled to make ends meet. "I really became discouraged,” he said. “The land could not feed my family.”
Today, Luckner tells a different story. With the assistance provided by Feed the Future West/WINNER (FTF West/WINNER), farmers in Goyavier have implemented new potato planting and production technology and seen their crop yields and resulting incomes rise dramatically. Luckner used to grow potatoes mainly for personal consumption and sold for only a few thousand gourdes per year at the local market, but after working with FTF West/WINNER he received revenues of 150,000 gourdes in one year (about $3500). In 2012 alone, Luckner says that he made more money from his potato crops than he made in the ten previous years combined. "The money I have made in the marketing of potatoes in 2012 with the support of the FTF West/WINNER project was something that I did not dare to hope for,” he said. “Even my father who was a great potato farmer never had such income."
There is a constant level of risk for farmers in Haiti, one which has kept some from investing fully in their land as agricultural entrepreneurs, and as such, opportunities are missed or the uncertainty too great for farmers to bear. Such was the case for Cadet Luckner, a farmer from Thomazeau who supports his wife and six children. Luckner comes from a farming family, but confessed that, “I was discouraged. It is difficult to make money and live decently from agriculture. I think it’s because we don’t have good techniques and don’t see ourselves as entrepreneurs that make investments, but more as farmers who do agriculture as a pastime.”
It was after collaborating with Feed the Future West/WINNER (FTF West/WINNER) that Luckner’s views changed: He now serves as the general Coordinator for the Fondation des Pasteurs Bons Samaritains d’Haïti (FEPBSH), a Chanpyon Asosyasyon of the FTF West/WINNER project who recently entered into a contractual partnership with the private sector for the sale of sorghum from the Cul-de-Sac plain.
After the rain stopped and the winds died down, tropical storm Sandy left farmers in Haiti overwhelmed by damage to roads, crops, loss of their personal belongings and livestock due to flooding and sediments-filled irrigation systems. Despite the destruction, farmers of the Cul-de-Sac area were able to salvage the bean season this year and ensure their future income thanks to the combined efforts of the Feed the Future West/WINNER (FTF West/WINNER) project and the Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development (MARNDR) of Haiti.