USAID funded AVANSE Program Celebrates Rice Harvest Day

Bumper Rice Crop for Haitian Farmers with Support from Feed the Future

For Immediate Release

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Fort Liberté, Haiti As part of a “Rice Day” event in Haiti’s northeast, more than 150 Haitian farmers received certificates signaling their ‘graduation’ from the USAID AVANSE Farmer Field School training.  Rice Day festivities marked the harvest of rice cultivated through the new System of Rice Intensification (SRI) method introduced by AVANSE, and celebrated the revivification of rice cultivation in Haiti.

AVANSE is a project funded by the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future Initiative to end hunger and improve food security. “I used to sow 11 to 12 cans of rice seed but when the AVANSE field technician showed me the SRI method I only needed to sow four cans of rice seed,” said Monéus Ménélus, a participant farmer from Fort Liberté who spoke at the event. Ménélus has already seen his crop increase while at the same time using less seed and water.

SRI farming involves leaving more space between planted rice seedlings and using controlled irrigation to water the fields rather than flooding them. Some 1,500 hectares in the north and northeast of Haiti have been planted using the SRI method. This is just one of the new methods taught through the 150 Farmer Field Schools established by AVANSE. The instruction has proved especially effective as it combines both theoretical and hands-on training in the field in small groups of up to 20 farmers. To date, 3,000 farmers have been enrolled in Farmer Field Schools.

At the event Interim USAID Mission Director Jock Conly explained the value of the new method to increase production, reduce costs, and earn more income for farming households: The new production system has doubled the yields per hectare of the rice farmers under the program: seven tons per hectare of rice compared to three tons per hectare under the traditional methods of production. Thus, SRI is contributing to food security and increasing farmers’ incomes”.

Haitians have cultivated rice for over two centuries, but domestic production declined sharply in the mid-1980s. Rice Day celebrates the renewal of this tradition that runs deep in both the local economy and cuisine. Indeed, Rice Day participants from around the rice farming region had an opportunity to sample the four varieties of rice promoted through AVANSE, see and touch the tools used in rice cultivation, as well as enjoy a performance of folk dance celebrating the rice harvest.