From left to right, Mr. Romelus, Ministry of Agriculture; Mr. Mehu Josny, UMCOR; Ms. Ernsie, participant; and Mr. Winter, UMCOR trainer, during the certificate ceremony.
*By Jolie Marie Carey
December 18, 2013—There are many constraints to improving agricultural productivity in Haiti. Among the most common obstacles are the lack of irrigation systems, poor roads that do not easily allow goods to get to market, and crop loss due to disease or poor storage. The Haiti office of the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) recently trained a group of 50 young Haitian men and women to assist farmers in the Cul- de-Sac Plains, an agriculture-rich region, to improve their post-harvest capacity, thus stimulating production and improving grain supply.
UMCOR Haiti, working with Chemonics and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), organized the training in two intensive weeklong workshops between December 2 and December 13. The workshops were held at the Agricultural Research Center, about eight miles from the capital, Port-au-Prince. UMCOR Haiti selected an established trainer to instruct the 50 representatives of farmer associations on post-harvest concepts, post-harvest stocking (grain conservation), and the use of metal silos.
“I appreciate very much how UMCOR organized the training,” said Mr. Apredieu Thelismon, a participant. “This allows me have more knowledge on how to store and conserve seeds in my community, and that knowledge will help us as an association to reap more benefit and increase our profit.”
The trainings consisted of group work and brainstorming sessions and employed a participatory methodology with practical application. Participants analyzed the cost and benefit of silos and potential post-harvest profitability, acted out role-play sessions, and took tests to ascertain how well they retained the new information. They learned how to assemble and disassemble silos and use a humidity meter, and they came to understand the importance of both in effectively preserving grain. The entire training and the seminar manuals were offered in Haitian Kreyol to maximize understanding, and participants are now responsible for training other members of their farmer associations.
The trainings culminated in a certificate ceremony last Friday, December 13, a great way to congratulate participants and acknowledge mutual interest in improving the agriculture sector in Haiti. UMCOR Haiti was honored to have a representative from the Ministry of Agriculture, Agronomist Romelus Durand, in attendance to present the certificates.
Ms. Ernsie Romelus, who spoke at the ceremony on behalf of the farmer association members, said, “We have learned how to store and conserve seeds and now understand techniques for post-harvest storage. I will be able to conserve my grain in a silo so it does not spoil.” Traditional methods for storing grains include saving them in gourds (like calabash) or in an above-ground storage shed that can be accessed by animals and pests, and also is prone to spoilage from rainwater.
In addition to the training, UMCOR’s project, Improving Post-Harvest Storage for Increased Agricultural Incomes in the Cul-de-Sac Plains, has procured 95 silos and 20 humidity meters and will purchase 800 tarps to be distributed to these members, who represent 25 farmer associations. Eighty silos are medium size, with improved storage capacity of 1.4 metric tons. The remaining 15 are reserved for associations whose members have a higher storage-capacity need, at 5.4 metric tons of grain.
UMCOR Haiti’s collaboration with USAID and Chemonics on projects that support increased access to food security helps to establish UMCOR Haiti’s work in agriculture, and positions the organization as one of the sources for solutions to the vexing problem of food insecurity in Haiti. You can support this work with your gift to Haiti Response, Advance #418325.
*Jolie Marie Carey has worked with UMCOR in Haiti as the livelihoods coordinator since September 2013.