Thursday, September 29, 2011

Rabbit Production Makes a Difference in Haiti

Rabbit producers in Haiti have made significant gains over the past 2 ½ years of the Farmer to Farmer Small Animal project, thanks to the support of Farmer to Farmer volunteers and the ongoing training and follow-up provided by Makouti Agro Enterprise. Partners of the Americas has been tracking the progress of individuals and groups receiving FTF support and based on a recent review, we have found very encouraging results which show the impact the project has had on Haitian farmers who are determined to improve their livelihoods.

Our study compared baseline data, collected primarily in 2008 and 2009, against data collected in early 2011 for 99 producers and producer groups (hosts). We found that there was a 142% increase in the number of rabbits each host owned, with an average increase per host of nearly 19 rabbits. One producer from Grand Riviere du Nord started with only 4 rabbits in late 2008 and was managing 96 rabbits by early 2011. There was a 185% increase in offspring, although mortality rates of young continues to fluctuate as new producers come on board and learn the ropes of caring for these animals. On average, hosts increased their monthly income from rabbit sales by US$19.55, and one host increased his monthly income from rabbit sales from $0 to $125 per month!

What does it mean to a small-scale rabbit producer in Haiti? Consider the story of Paul, from a mountain town in Haiti near the Dominican Republic border, who has 6 people in his family. On his small plot of land he grew coffee and beans, and in February 2009 he reported making 20,000 Haitian Gourdes (US$500) net income per year from his farming activities. That month he received 3 adult rabbits and started a FTF training program in rabbit production. Two years later in February of 2011, he had 18 adult rabbits with 60 offspring. He now earns 100,000 Haitian Gourdes (US$2,500) per year in net income from selling rabbits, has 8 clients in the Dominican Republic and Haiti, and has hired an employee. He takes notes of all his sales, and he also makes compost and plants trees. 
Although an average increase in monthly income of $19.55 seems negligible to an average American family, for a Haitian family this increase can mean the difference in putting food on the table or sending your children to school. According to the World Bank, “school fees are also prohibitively expensive [to most Haitian families]—an estimated US$70 to US$80 per child each year in a country with a per capita GDP of US$480.  In many cases, parents simply cannot afford to send their children to school.” In early 2011, 74% of rabbit producers assisted by Makouti Agro Enterprise and the Farmer to Farmer Program report they can now afford the fees to send all of their children to school with money made from rabbit sales. Imagine the broader difference that can be made in Haiti when more families are managing small agro-enterprises, putting healthier food on the table, and sending all their children to school!  

Monday, September 26, 2011

Volunteer Lays Foundation for US - DR Market Linkages

Mr. Delemarre observes greenhouses at harvest time
Often times finding new markets nationally and abroad can be difficult for farmers. Farmer to Farmer has recently had the opportunity to work with a marketing specialist who has answered the call to help farmers begin to bridge this gap in the Dominican Republic.

Robert Delemarre had volunteered previously with the USAID Farmer to Famer Program in Southern Russia, and this past July and August he applied his expertise in the Caribbean by participating in an assignment with Partners of the Americas’ FTF Program in the Dominican Republic.

His schedule was unique compared to the typical FTF agenda. His first few days were spent in Florida obtaining information from import - export companies. He sought to answer the following questions: What products do the companies already import/export? Would they be willing to establish relations with the Dominican Republic? What products are the companies interested to import? What grade standards do they follow? What are the food sanitation regulations that the company requires? This information is highly important for farmers to have when seeking future relations for business because it allows them to put measures in place in advance, so they can meet standards, and because this information is not always easy for farmers to obtain.

Cold Storage Facility Tour
During the 16 days of his trip, Mr. Delemarre visited greenhouse clusters while providing multiple presentations throughout the week. While traveling from greenhouse to greenhouse, he saw beautiful crops that had much potential for profit. However, farmers often face the effects of poor postharvest infrastructure which prevent them from preserving the quality of the product by the time it reaches the market. Still, he found reason for hope.

On the 10th day of travel, Mr. Delemarre was brought to visit a brand-new, state-of-the-art Cold Storage Facility in Constanza. The building has 8 separate cold storage chambers and room for 8 more. The same owner also has another facility in Santo Domingo with another one on its way just outside Santo Domingo.

Mr. Delemarre shares information on export market standards
Along with the quality of storage facilities, Delemarre observed that many farmers were producing the same crops resulting in competition between farms. He recommended trying other crops that are in demand like broccoli, cauliflower, Brussel sprouts, strawberries and more, as well as working toward certification and meeting Eure-Gap or Primus Labs requirements. These certifications aim to reduce potential spread of listeria and E. coli.

The overall objective is two-fold, helping farmers supply higher quality produce to local markets and also reaching higher-value export markets. Currently there is export potential for peppers, cucumbers, pineapples, cantaloupe and honey melons, avocado, and papaya. With improved post-harvest procedures, clusters of medium- and small-scale farmers in the Dominican Republic have a great deal of opportunity to market their produce locally and also internationally.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Renewed Focus on Goat Production in Haiti

Ms. Stover visited with animal producers in the South of Haiti
The Haiti Farmer to Farmer Program recently benefited from the perspective of a specialist in goat production, Ilana Stover, from the Alabama Cooperative Extension Service. Since the program has previously focused a great deal of attention on rabbit production and beekeeping, this dedicated attention to goat production was very welcomed and needed.

In her words,"During my two-week stint in Haiti, I toured the country and met a number of different goat farmers. Until I arrived, there had not been anyone with Farmer to Farmer to handle strictly goat production. I went in with the objective of observing and discovering the major issues that farmers were facing."

Ms. Stover conducted a thorough analysis of several sites in the South and North of Haiti and made recommendations in the areas of parasite control and appropriate remedies, dairy production training, slaughter standards, breeding practices, and more. Farmer to Farmer is planning another trip this fall where a volunteer will address breeding practices and energy needs of goats, as a follow-up to her recommendations and findings. Thanks go to Ilana and the ACES for their support of Farmer to Farmer's efforts to improve goat production practices and benefit farmeres in Haiti!

Different breeds of goats are present in Haiti, some better adapted to local conditions than others
Final training session in Cap-Haitien was well-attended

Monday, September 19, 2011

"John Ogonowski" and Doug Bereuter Farmer to Farmer Program

Did you know that the USAID Farmer to Farmer Program's official name as of 2008 is the "John Ogonowski and Doug Bereuter Farmer to Farmer Program"? Doug Bereuter is the Congressman who initially sponsored the Farmer to Farmer Program, and John Ogonowski was an airline pilot who lost his life in the September 11th attacks. He is memorialized in the official name of our Program, but do you know why?

This recent article in The Republic out of Indiana tells the story of Mr. Bereuter's dedication to helping farmers from other countries. It's a must-read!

Thursday, September 15, 2011

This Week in the Field

At any given time, Partners of the Americas's Farmer to Farmer volunteers are volunteering their time to assist farmers and farming groups in the Caribbean and Americas. So what's going on this week?

Bob Blohm, recent Dairy Quality volunteer, with Nicaraguan counterpart
Volunteer Sheila Dallas Katzman, communications and leadership specialist, is conducting trainings in leadership to entrepreneurs and agribusiness and community leaders in the South of Haiti.

Volunteers Jim Murren and Cheryl O'Brien, extension and gender specialists from Purdue University, are collaborating with IICA (InterAmerican Institute for Cooperation on Agriculture) and over 80 extension agents in Paraguay to improve agriculture extension practices and gender considerations in extension.

Volunteer John Hargreaves, aquaculture specialist, is working with a tilapia hatchery in Guyana to make recommendations to improve Good Agriculture Practices.

Volunteer Craig MacFarland is conducting a workshop with the Ministry of Agriculture and the Jarabacoa Forestry School in the Dominican Republic to assist park staff and forestry students in the areas of public use of protected areas, trail building and park management.

Monday, September 12, 2011

From California to Haiti: FTF Volunteer's Work Featured in News

The San Francisco Bay Area Times-Herald featured an article yesterday which highlights the work and dedication of veterinarian and Farmer to Farmer volunteer Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak. Together with the advice of volunteer specialists like Myriam and the local expertise of FTF field staff and Makouti Agro Enterprise leaders, data indicates that the average individual rabbit producer collaborating with Farmer to Farmer has increased his/her annual net income (from rabbit production activities) by US$817, and 74% of rabbit producers collaborating with Makouti Agro Enterprise are now able to send all of their children to school with income from rabbit sales. For a low-income Haitian farmer and his/her family, that translates into an improved livelihood and hope for the future.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Vegetable Gardens For Improved Nutrition In Haiti

Help support Partners' horticulture activities in Haiti! Donations provide tools, seeds and training to rural families. Click the image above to read more!