Agricultural Program

community reach:unlimited
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Project Overview

Haitian farmers are the lowest yield producers in the Western Hemisphere. This has trapped them in survival mode, living from hand-to-mouth. The factors that impede moving from subsistence to a business model for agriculture are well known: lack of good seed, no access to fertilizer, minimal mechanization, lack of technical assistance for identifying and solving common problems with plant disease, destructive insects and soil fertility. Building upon the lessons learned from the Foundation’s extensive development work in Haiti, we have embarked on an ambitious multi-year initiative to transform one rural Haitian farming community approximately 15 miles outside of Cap Haitien. The Foundation is not offering a handout but a solution to breaking the cycle of dependency. Haitians are hardworking people and possess the determination and drive to build a better future for their families. The iF Foundation is empowering these families to achieve economic independence through an innovative multi-faceted agricultural program. In discussions with members of the community, local producer groups and the Ministry of Agriculture, the Foundation has developed a strategy and vision that has four main components:

  • Increase production for staple crops (rice, corn, beans) by offering credit for seed, fertilizer, and land preparation and technical assistance from planting through harvest
  • Increase farm family revenue by introducing high-value crops such as tomatoes, hot peppers, bell peppers, cashew, mandarins, off-season avocado and export-grade mangoes
  • Establishing a commodity exchange to link farmers to other distribution channels and introduce price and weight transparency to buying and selling
  • Technical training to enable farmers to understand both the science and business of agriculture in order to make informed choices as to what to plant and when to plant

Each step addresses a critical weak link in the value chain for agriculture. For example:

  • Simply switching corn planting densities increased yields from 626kg/hectare to more than 2400kg/ha.
  • A single mandarin tree will provide a farm family with annual income of $100-150 for 25 years; when one considers that more than half the population lives on less than $1 per day, this is a substantial source of incremental revenue.

Our next major initiative is to expand the installation and use of micro-drip irrigation. In our own trials, we increased peanut yield from 400kg/ha to 725kg/ha. Availability of water allows us to plant a higher yielding variety from the University of Georgia (06G) that will produce harvests of 1500-2000kg/ha. Drip irrigation will eliminate most of the risk to planting beans, the highest revenue-generating crop in Haiti. It also creates a new income opportunities for local farmers because it opens the door to planting high-value vegetable crops such as hot pepper and provides a third growing season.

Through our new innovative program, local farmers are given access to interest-free credit in order to pay for seed, land preparation, fertilizer and other inputs needed to bring a crop to harvest. Rather than disbursing cash, the Foundation sources inputs and provides land preparation, high quality seed and other critical materials to the beneficiary farmer. This approach addresses a key obstacle to Haitian farmers as good seed, mechanized land preparation and fertilizer are usually not available. The loan is repaid at time of harvest. Trained agronomists and technical staff work alongside local farmers teaching them improved techniques to grow crops and link them to buyers at harvest time. In addition, staff will work with the farmers training them on post harvest activities to include basics like proper packing and shipping of fruit and marketing initiatives to help the farmers obtain the best possible price for their crops.

read about our methods, research and pilot programs

High Value Fruit Trees
Grafting to create commercial quality trees

Improved Staple Crops
Quality Protein Maize, Rice, Corn and Beans

Compost and Vermiculture
Using worms to create an improved valuable soil

Agricultural Research
Separating iF from other organization’s doing similar work

Development - Opportunity - Hope