Project 2000 International seeks to establish an alternative agricultural system in Haiti emphasizing comprehensive technical training in combination with the acquisition of modern farming tools and equipment. This proposed marriage of enhanced training and equipment is expected to equip farmers currently employing primitive methods and working non-productive land with the tools and knowledge necessary to increase productivity and employ sustainable cultivation techniques.
It is vital that these farmers learn best practice farming methods being utilized in industrialized countries. If ineffectual farming practices in Haiti's countryside are not replaced with modern, sustainable techniques, problems of hunger and reliance on others for basic sustenance will persist and possibly worsen.
A pilot farm has been established in Demizène, the fourth communal section of Miragoâne in the department of Nippes where training and planting has already been launched. The aim of the proposed project is to expand the training to include farmers beyond the initial pilot project participants to the general population of farmers in the area. When the pilot is scaled up the program is expected to have approximately 200 direct participants with even wider spillover benefits as knowledge is diffused to family members and associates.
The pilot farm program has already planted a variety of seedlings including lima beans, corn, bananas, watermelon, peppers, and green beans. Training has included an array of planting techniques ranging from poly to monoculture, to demonstrate first hand to the "student farmers" which is the more productive technique practice after the crops have been harvested. Tomato seedlings have also been planted for training and experimentation purposes and a dual tomato project is in process with the ultimate goal of creating a processing company able to produce tomato paste.
To this end, we have planted two types of tomatoes on a rotating basis: a larger tomato for cooking, and a smaller variety of tomato for salad making. Experimentation has revealed that the larger tomato is more resilient than the smaller requiring significantly less care and fertilization. Most of the seedlings for both of these varieties have required between three to six months from conception to consumption or commercialization. As a result of the dual-tomato seedling activities farmers are now more prepared for what each variety will require for successful planting and marketing.
Haiti faces a dire situation due to the hunger problem that has recently developed in some areas of the country. Soil has eroded and some areas have experienced drought-like conditions. It is incumbent upon social organizations advocating for the wellbeing of Haiti to develop viable solutions in order to help alleviate the burdens of its ordinary citizens.
Project 2000 International a 501c3 organization has been working since 1994 in Haiti to create sustainable communities by providing the tools necessary to become self-sufficient. By educating the masses, we at Project 2000 International believe that we are on the road to creating an environment for self-sustainability. With advances in technology, there should be no reason that farmers still need to use machetes and rakes. We constantly find ourselves in situations in which drastic decisions have to be made in order to respond to the community's growing needs. Tools are available today to make the work easier and more effective.
Recently, famine has encroached on many of the most remote areas of Haiti. Project 2000 believes that in order to respond quickly and according to the needs of our community, we ought to have tools available that will enable the community to work the land year round. Once crops are ready to harvest, we will call the participating members of the community and give them a percentage of the harvest. We sell the beans by the pound. If they harvest one hundred pounds, we give them 25 pounds and they also purchase another 25 pounds for a small price…they can sell or they can keep whatever amount they like. In order to accomplish our goals, we are in need of several backhoe loaders and agricultural tools for the South and the far Northwest.
Two major regions will benefit from this help. One to the South in Demizaine, and far Northwest in Bombardopolis-an area that made international news because the people have resorted to eating dirt due to lack of available food sources in the area.
Aside from the lack of food, two other needs are of vitally important at this point in time i.e. agricultural tools including seeds and fertilizers, and a canalization project capable of bringing water into the area.
We currently have an ongoing project in Haiti that is available for inspection, however, is also in need of further development.
Agriculture in a sense is still practiced as if we were in the dark ages because of the inaccessibility of tools, seed, fertilizers, and adequate irrigation systems to assist the farmers. Having some backhoe loaders, tools, seeds, fertilizers, as well as an irrigation system to assist the farmers will bring much needed life to communities that are in dire need of help. Project 2000 International remains open to any other kind of help that anyone including corporations and foundations are able to offer as assistance for the betterment of the lives of the Haitian people.
Our challenge remains the acquisition of modern farming equipment, funding for fertilizer, seedlings, and an irrigation system for higher crop yield. Until we overcome these challenges with the infusion of funding, our crop yield will remain low and the effectiveness of the introduction of better farming methodology will be suppressed. Funding is needed in order to take the program to the next level. The approach has been proven; all that is now needed is the funding to roll out the next phase of implementation. The pilot farm program is replicable and scalable on all levels. Success and demonstrable benefits from the project will help the knowledge and techniques spread to other areas of Haiti. Similar weather patterns across much of the country (with the exception of the west) also ensure that the techniques can be adopted with little modification.
The success of replication lies in the pledge of farmers to engage with farmers outside the initially targeted community. Scalability is only limited by resources to enlarge irrigation systems and secure modern farming tools. As the program succeeds and farmers are able to earn regular income from the marketability of their crops, they are more able to purchase some of the smaller ticket items that will enhance productivity such as seedlings and fertilizer.