Model Farming: a 'WINNER' in Haiti

Agricultural intensification through demonstrated innovations
"We are so privileged to have our own model modern farm to refer to," said Louis

In the mountains of Kenscoff, Mrs. Jane Wynn recently made part of her land available to a program that is helping farmers grasp innovative techniques in order to double their yields and increase their income - 1,500 farmers, to be exact.

The USAID-financed program is called WINNER, and its rural Center for Sustainable Development (CRDD) is what first caught the attention of Mrs. Wynn, a Haitian-American who saw an opportunity to both advance her ecological interest and the livelihoods of Kenscoff farmers.

Launched in 2009, WINNER is a five-year, $126 million USAID program managed mostly by Haitians and built on a network of over 25 farmers' associations in conjunction with the government and others to form public-private partnerships (PPPs).

Two months after her initial contacts, the Kenscoff CRDD was in place at the Wynn farm with a clear mission to give farmers the technical assistance to increase their productivity in sustainable ways. The Wynn farm includes various demonstration plots, which show farmers the differences between the traditional methods of production and good agricultural practices.

The crops are chosen in collaboration with the 25 area partner farmer associations so that the region's specificities are taken into account. "We had to see it to believe it!" confessed Pierre Paul Jules, now cultivating in rows after visiting the model farm.

Ousbel Louis, a member of a farmer association represented in the CRDD's management board, has made full use of the center as well. In addition to training on operating a tree nursery, Louis has developed an acute interest in vertical agriculture. He recently graduated as a master farmer with a specialization in vegetable production. "We are so privileged to have our own model modern farm to refer to," said Louis. "Development has to start with skilled citizens, so I will learn as many skills as WINNER is willing to impart."

And the efforts appear to be working: So far, five PPPs, reaching about 2,000 households, have been implemented. And last fall, Haiti farmlands yielded 0.8 metric tons of harvested beans-a 12-percent increase over previous years.

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