Steps to revitalize Haiti agriculture sector

The United States government, through its Agency for International Development (USAID), says it will be training thousands of Haitians in new agricultural techniques through the inauguration of a cutting-edge agricultural training center.

USAID said the Sustainable Rural Development Center will help modernize Haiti’s agricultural sector by “training farmers to use innovative agriculture techniques that will increase crop yields and boost incomes.”

It said the five-hectare campus here features a training center, warehouse, dormitory, three laboratories and a distance-learning facility.

USAID said the dormitory will allow farmers from across the country, including the northern region, to benefit from the resources physically located at the center, adding that an online video link with the University of Florida will connect them to the expertise of U.S. agronomists.

“Haitian farmers will learn how to analyze soil, identify pests and diagnose diseases that hamper crop production,” said USAID in a statement.

“They will also learn to use tools and techniques like drip irrigation and fertilizer briquettes that reduce costs and boost yields,” it added.

USAID said agriculture is central to the Haitian economy, generating nearly 25 percent of gross domestic product and employing more than 60 percent of the population.

But it said declining crop production has plagued Haiti for the past 50 years, noting that the Government of Haiti identified agriculture as a “key sector to create jobs and boost the economy.”

USAID said the U.S. government responded by designating agriculture as one of the four areas targeted for earthquake reconstruction along with health, governance and infrastructure.

It said initially, public and private sector partners will manage the new center, with the U.S. government transferring full management responsibilities to Haitian institutions in the next few years.

“Our support will help train thousands of farmers over the next few years,” said USAID/Haiti Mission Director Carleene Dei.

“Once the center is running smoothly, Haitian institutions will possess the knowledge and experience to manage the center without our assistance,” she added.

The Sustainable Rural Development Center is one of eight agricultural training centers built with U.S. government funding in Haiti, USAID said.

It said the facilities are part of President Obama’s global hunger and food security initiative, Feed the Future, “which is working to reduce global hunger and poverty by supporting country-led plans for agricultural development.”

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