Saving grain for a rainy day in Haiti
UMCOR project will ‘significantly improve’ production, storage capacity
June 6, 2014
Farmers in Haiti hope to reduce post-harvest crop losses through a scheme run by ACT member the United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR), in conjunction with USAID.
The project, Improving Post-Harvest Storage for Increased Agricultural Incomes in the Cul-de-Sac Plains, is designed to improve farmer confidence, stimulate production and improve yields beyond mere household consumption level by using better technology and capital.
The Cul-de-Sac corridor is part of the greater Port-au-Prince area, where 80 percent of the country’s economic activity takes place, USAID reports. The plain is one of the main productive plains in Haiti but is prone to flooding and urban sprawl has encroached on productive land. Significant areas of land lie fallow but have the potential to be revitalized for high value agriculture.
In December, farmers from 25 farmers associations took part in agriculture training led by the UMCOR and were then offered silos for grain storage. The yield of their land ― and potential yield ― was assessed to determine the number and size of silos their members needed.
The associations were offered a total of 95 silos, 20 humidity meters and 800 tarpaulins. Of the silos, 80 are mid-sized, with storage capacity of 1.4 tons. The remaining silos are reserved for associations whose members need greater storage capacity, at 5.4 tons of grain or more. The main crop grains to be stored are maize, sorghum, beans and rice.
Bastien Judith Lacroix is a member of the PHASS Association. She was pleased to receive the silo and humidity measure for her association. “These silos will significantly improve our ability to store grain effectively. We have had many post-harvest losses mainly due to a lack of resources. We hope UMCOR will continue to support farmers and increase our revenues. A big thank you to the entire UMCOR Haiti team.”
For their part, the farmers associations helped assemble the silos, paid for them to be transported to the sites, built cement platforms for the silos and roofs to protect them from sun and rain.
The associations agree to use and properly maintain the equipment. Given the excitement of the farmers, UMCOR Haiti hopes the equipment will be well-used and will directly improve food security and farmer incomes.
UMCOR program manager for agriculture Mehu Josny said with the silos could store grain until grain supplies on the market ran low and commodity prices were good. The tarpaulins would be used to dry and transport the grain and the moisture meters to control the water content of the grain before storage.
“In all, recipients have enjoyed the post-harvest equipment because they do not have the opportunity to purchase these materials, which will allow them to properly store and keep grain safe from rodents and other insects capable of causing much damage as was the case before receiving modern equipment. It plays a really important role for them,” Mehu said.
Haiti does not produce enough food to feed its population. More than 60 percent of food products are imported.
The planters now know how to increase performance once conditions are right: they have water for irrigation and have subsidized inputs so they will be able to produce not only to improve food security, and have a surplus for sale on the market but also to store and retain a portion for periods of high demand on the market. This will enable them to improve their income, allowing them to re-invest in their farms and take better care of their families.