Agro-Forestry + Economy

Agriculture impacts income, the environment, and availability of food. While the primary means of livelihood in Haiti is agriculture, this sector contributes to only 28% of Haiti’s GDP. High levels of deforestation have significantly degraded the land, leading to low crop yields and increased floods and mudslides. Our Agricultural Augmentation model promotes agricultural practices that help farmers increase their income and obtain adequate food while at the same time improving soil and replanting land with trees. The trees provide fruit and therefore longterm income, and the agricultural practices promote soil and water conservation. The model pays special attention to soil and water use to preserve the whole water system and maintain a balanced ecosystem.

 
 

How It Works

The Agricultural Augmentation model combines agro-forestry and farmer associations to increase farmers’ incomes and improve vulnerable land. In times of emergency, GRANS conducts seed fairs in parallel with its ongoing sustainable agriculture program to ensure that farmers have seeds for planting and that the local seed market is resilient.

These components are described below:

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Sustainable Agriculture Components

 
 
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  • Crop yields increased significantly: In The Haitian Town of Thomonde, farmers who followed the best practices in farming harvested more seeds than farmers who did not follow these practices. Farmers grew maize, peanuts, and sugar beans. The harvest size depended on the type of irrigation the farmer could provide. Harvests of maize and sugar beans grown on artificially irrigated land were 19% and 91% greater, respectively. Peanuts and sugar beans that grew on rain-fed land yielded 63% and 26% more seeds.

  • Participating farmers sold crops for 22% more than non-participating farmers: Measuring the monetary value of different harvests is a good proxy for measuring differences in household income. Participating farmers in the The Haitian Town of Thomonde program realized an average 22% increase in value of crops compared to farmers who did not participate. Their crop production was higher, and they were able to negotiate a better price because they were selling their crops collectively.

  • Planting dual-purpose trees: TIPS provides farmers with saplings of resilient and fast-growing fruit trees, such as mango and papaya. These trees serve two purposes. First, they produce fruit that can be exported within four to five years and provide long-term income for the farmer. Second, they improve the land and environment by holding topsoil and water, thus preventing erosion and mudslides. 

  • Growing staple crops: This is the mainstay of the model. Farmers are taught to grow short-term crops, such as corn, cassava, hot peppers, and other vegetables, between the trees. They are taught environmentally-friendly techniques to increase their crop yields. These crops are harvested every year or every few months, providing short-term income as well as food.

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  • 86% of farmers adopted best agricultural practices: In a program headed in The Haitian Town of Thomonde, farmers were given seeds and taught best practices in farming, such as rotating crops and using manure for compost. The final evaluation showed that 86% of participating farmers adopted at least three or more best practices. The program was so successful that non-participating farmers also began to adopt these practices. Moreover, since farmers were able to obtain a wider variety of seeds through this program, they were able to grow a greater variety of crops, which helps replenish soil and diversify sources of income.

  • Increased food security: As crop yields and incomes increased, farmers gained access to more produce and purchased more foods, thereby significantly increasing their family’s food security.

  • Farmer Associations: These are legal associations, each of about 100 farmers, who grow similar crops. The associations help farmers expand their agricultural enterprises by training them in business development, facilitating savings and intra-group lending, and connecting the group with seed and fertilizer suppliers, traders, and exporters. The associations aggregate demand for seeds and fertilizers and aggregate produce, increasing the bargaining power of their farmer-members. 

  • Youth club nurseries: TIPS in partnership with GRANS teaches groups of young people to build tree nurseries by growing saplings and selling them to farmers. Young people develop a source of income and a sense of community. 

  • Agro-Forestry combines tree planting and crop growing to increase incomes and improve land. 

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  • Farmers increased their return on investment by 30% to 53%: In Tanzania, farmer associations sold crops grown by member-farmers for 20% more than the price that traders were offering individual farmers. Interacting regularly in an organized manner also helped farmers become better informed about the market and about how to evaluate their costs of production. Both of these are essential for negotiating prices with traders. Member-farmers increased the returns on their investment by 30% to 53%.

  • Value of farmer family assets increased by 111%: The value of household assets represents the household’s physical capital and indicates how vulnerable families are in times of crisis. TIPS found that participants in the The Haitian Town of Thomondean program more than doubled the value of their livestock assets, domestic assets such as beds or stoves, and production assets such as farm tools. With a 111% increase, the participants significantly augmented their physical capital and decreased their vulnerability. 

  • Seed fairs as emergency response: When natural or manmade disasters occur, farming families who may not have enough to eat often resort to consuming the seeds that they had previously harvested and stored for the next planting season. When planting season arrives, they have no seeds to plant. In such times—the months after the recent earthquake are an example GRANS holds market fairs. Here farmers, using vouchers given to them by GRANS, can buy seeds from local seed traders. Traders can, in turn, exchange the vouchers for cash from GRANS. This gives farmers a choice of seeds (often seeds are given away by NGOs, which means farmers cannot choose what to grow), injects cash directly into the local economy, and maintains the local seed market. (Rather than being obtained from local traders, seeds are often brought in from outside Haiti which can weaken local markets.)

 

Reaching the vulnerable

Our results are particularly impressive given the following challenge

Programs focused on agriculture often target vulnerable farmers who till small plots of land they do not own and may not till again. Persuading them to consider the long-term benefit of improving soil is difficult. The program in Thomonde, found that allowing farmers to make decisions about what to grow or when to conduct training led to increased interest, greater participation, and a more successful program. Farmers began to feel that they had personal stakes in the program and began to consider longterm issues. TIPS plans to use the same methods in Haiti to convince more farmers to participate in its program.

$90 per Haitian farmer per year.

Cost-impact profile

For an average cost of $90 per farmer/year in Haiti, data from Malawi and Tanzania suggest the potential for the following increases in income, food security, and better farmland.

 
 
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Income:

Crop yields increase by 19% to 91%; harvests sell for 22% more; farmers’ returns on investment increase by 30% to 53%; and subsequently their household assets double in value.

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Food security:

 As crop yields and incomes increase, families have access to a greater quantity and variety of food

Sustainable agriculture:

 86% of targeted farmers adopt best agricultural practices. 

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Dollars can help: 

Supporting sustainable agriculture is both essential and smart for three reasons: 2/3 of the Haitian population is engaged in agriculture, a series of natural disasters caused Haitians to migrate to rural areas, and Haitian soil is degraded. Donations will help TIPS extend its program to regenerate more land and improve the livelihoods of farmer families for now and for the future.

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The Impact


Since TIPS and GRANDS began its new sustainable agriculture program in Haiti just last year, suggest the potential impact of the program in Haiti. Farmers who participate in these programs increase the yields and value of their crop, are more food secure, and begin to practice environmentally sustainable agriculture. Impact data are drawn from our pilot programs. The first program in The Haitian Town of Thomonde distributed seeds and taught farmers environmentally sustainable best practices to increase crop yields. Implemented by “Groupe De Reflection & D'Action Pour Une Nouvelle Societe” Also known as G. R. A. N. S to increase income by collectively buying seeds and selling harvests. 

INCOME & ENVIRONMENT

CREATING INCOME, PROTECTING THE ENVIRONMENT

With only 4% of Haiti under forest cover and consequently much topsoil eroding, Haitian land produces few crops and natural disasters cause significant flooding and mudslides. However, high population density and poverty make it difficult to give reforestation priority over agriculture. planting fruit trees that provide food, forest cover, and a source of income. TIPS & GRANS began the pilot program in Thomonde,  Haiti to teach 6,000 farmers the best practices for growing fruit trees and crops and for expanding their agro-businesses. The model has successfully integrated short-term disaster relief with longer-term income generation and environmental sustainability. Additional funding could bring these results to other communities.

TIPS focuses on agriculture to promote health, to sustain the environment, to increase income, and to respond to emergencies. The model we use in Thomonde, Haiti incorporates each of these elements. In implementing this model in Haiti, TIPS works closely with our partner, “Groupe De Reflection & D'Action Pour Une Nouvelle Societe” Also known as G. R. A. N. S., our sister nonprofit organization in Haiti.

TIPS is currently implementing a pilot program that targets 6,000 farming families who do not have adequate or diverse food for any part of the year. We also target out-of-school youth and local seed traders. Our model also targets degraded, unproductive soil.

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