Sustainable plantain production in Haiti is an important step towards food security

Publié le par hort

http://mediaglobal. org/article/ 2008-07-28/ sustainable- plantain- production- in-haiti- is-an-important- step-towards- food-security

Sustainable plantain production in Haiti is an important step towards food security
By Gabrielle Wade

28 July 2008 [MEDIAGLOBAL] : With violent food riots in April, pledges of aid during the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization Summit in June, and continually escalating food prices throughout the world, it is clear that Haiti is in desperate need of help to feed its people.

Although pledges of food aid seem generous, the Associated Press revealed that, as of early July, less than two percent of the U.S. food pledge had been distributed. The report indicated that large quantities of food had not reached distribution centers.

Given this alarming news, it is clear that Haiti’s answer does not lie in external food aid. Ultimately, Haitians must find a way to sustain food production and strengthen their agricultural sector without relying on external sources.

The Lambi Fund of Haiti, a not for profit organ-ization, whose mission is to assist the popular democratic movement in Haiti, aims to promote the social and economic empowerment of the Haitian people by aiding them in two-year-long projects with the ability to be sustained.

Lambi Fund Deputy Director Leonie Hermantin told MediaGlobal, “in order to be funded a project has to be sustainable because we only stay in communities for two years. It has to be able to bring some economic benefit to the community.” She further explained that the way to ensure sustainability is to train locals in project management as well as skills that are project-specific.

Although the Lambi Fund was created in 1994, it is especially useful today given the current world food crisis. This past year, the Lambi Fund began a groundbreaking project based on plantain production in the Gwo Mon area of Haiti.

Hermantin explained that about two years ago, farmers from the Gwo Mon area approached the Lambi Fund for help because there was a high degree of deforestation in the area. The Fund got very involved with several organizations in the area, and one day they were approached by a group of plantain farmers.

In the past ten years, the spread of the Black Sigatoka fungus has contributed to the depletion of Haiti’s plantain production, as well as damaged plantain farms throughout Africa, Asia and Latin America. When Lambi Fund members were in the Gwo Mon area, plantain farmers with fields plagued by the fungus approached them asking for help.

Hermantin said some of the agronomists working with the Fund were familiar with the disease. “They had been to workshops with some South Africans about the disease and how to create new healthy plantain trees.”

Even with some knowledge about the disease, it took the Fund about a year to create a nursery with healthy plantain trees. By partnering with local scientists and the Organization for the Rehabilitation of the Environment (ORE), a non-profit organization in Haiti, the Fund was able to develop a type of plantain tree resistant to Sigatoka as well as create a sustainable partnership with a group of community scientists.

Hermantin said the method used is additionally beneficial to locals because, “with one little offshoot of a plantain tree, you can make 60 trees and it takes less than six months. So we’ve been able to, in terms of security, not only produce a healthy plantain tree, but also allow farmers to rapidly produce plantain trees.”

Given the success of the created method, the Lambi Fund took on the project of creating the Center for Plantain Propagation to be a training place for community organizations wishing to learn plantain cultivation as well as an area where locals can purchase healthy plantain trees.

Hermantin said, “We’ve become a center where organizations have been coming in to get training for that healthy plantain tree.”

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