Friday, September 6, 2013

F2F Small Animal Volunteer Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak Makes 15th Visit to Haiti

Rabbits are a good source of nutrition and income for
smallholder Haitian farmers
Long-time Farmer-to-Farmer (F2F) Volunteer Myriam Kaplan-Pasternak recently returned from her fifteenth trip to Haiti in seven years. As a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine from California, Myriam has had a unique volunteer experience in that she’s been able to follow the progression of the rabbit industry in Haiti, with rabbit meat becoming increasingly accepted on a larger scale as a viable source of nutrition and income for smallholder farmers. When Myriam first started volunteering with F2F in Haiti in 2006, there were fewer than 100 rabbit producers in the country, and only one of them was also eating the rabbits she raised. Today, with the help of F2F and Makouti Agro-Enterprise, this number has grown to over 1,000 producers with almost all raising rabbits for both personal consumption and sale.

Boiling and mixing cassava to include in rabbit feed blocks
Myriam’s most recent visit to Haiti was spent in-part monitoring the development of nutritional feed blocks for rabbits. All commercial rabbit feed in Haiti is currently produced from imported ingredients, which is not only costly for smallholder producers but also makes the availability of feed subject to fluctuations in international markets. Through the creation of recent training programs, rabbit producers are learning how to make and preserve their own nutritional feed blocks so they can have a more affordable and readily accessible food source for their animals. Myriam’s expertise was useful in developing the feed blocks and ensuring their proper storage.

Rabbit feed blocks produced locally with Myriam's help
Myriam was also overseeing the construction of a new meat processing plant outside of Port-au-Prince to ensure that proper food safety and sanitation measures are being followed. A local association will use the facility to process and distribute rabbits sourced from producers in the surrounding region. The association’s goal is that the plant will not only be a successful business, but will also serve as a model for safe food handling practices in the country.

Myriam found that although there are still many challenges in making Haitian rabbit production a sustainable business, new developments like the nutritional feed blocks and meat processing plant will help support smallholder producers and the local economy. In her trip reflection, Myriam wrote, “Farming will never be easy, but…rather than creating dependency and spending money on imported food…, it does feed people, provide them with incomes, and keep the economy alive by moving money around…Haiti.”

Myriam with two new rabbit producers

1 comment:

  1. That is an excellent idea to use the faeces of the farming animals to use it as fertilisers. It is one of the best ways to better the productivity. They are practicing this healthy idea in Chennai, India as well.

    Thanks for sharing.