Wednesday, September 20, 2017

Konferans Agrikol Sid 2017

Group Photo
Konferans Agrikol Sid
June 26 to June 29 2017
La Baleine, Sud, Haiti

On Monday, June 26, Konferans Agrikol Sid opened with a declaration of gratitude to God for re-growth and renewal after the devastation of Hurricane Matthew which ravaged southwestern Haiti in October 2016. Conference leaders and delegates, who experienced the destruction and played significant roles in hurricane response thanked God for regeneration. This regeneration was evident in the lush countryside, fruit trees weighed down with mangoes and breadfruit, and the continued drive to increase the resiliency of small farming systems to such disasters and make food available and abundant for all through agriculture. The spirit of the conference amongst the 107 attendees was hopeful in the face of real challenges, relating a positive narrative of Haiti in addition to rallying each person’s commitment to implement change and apply the knowledge gained at the conference to move Haiti forward. The chorus of the conference song, which was sung with gusto each afternoon, boldly stated: “Nou ka travay, nou dwe travay” or “We must work, we will work.” The week in which all were gathered proved to be a fruitful time in which agricultural workers connected with one another, learned from each other’s experience, and shared their knowledge and networks to become encouraged and equipped with new insight as they continue to work for the flourishing of their country.

The positive vision of Haiti expressed both by foreigners and Haitians was a particularly noteworthy aspect of the conference. Keynote speakers Ricardo Romero and Juan Manuel Martinez Valdez, both hailing from Mexico, opened their speeches by praising Haiti’s beauty and describing their good experience in the country as contrary to outside accounts of the nation which understand Haiti as a place without hope and abounding in poverty and danger. In sharing about edible food forests, Romero spoke of his encounter with an impressive, intentionally planted food forest in Jacmel. He also shared about his visit with SOIL Haiti in Port-au-Prince while championing the potential of composting toilets and turning human waste into valuable fertilizer. In this way, Romero identified areas in which people in Haiti were already practicing what he promoted and in so doing highlighted the strength and innovation of Haitians and the potential for success in the country. Additionally, Haitian assets were re-evaluated in meaningful and creative ways. Breadfruit was presented as a valuable crop worth propagating with high potential to increase income and feed people. Whereas in the past breadfruit was considered pig food and the trees were chopped down, representatives from Trees that Feed Foundation educated delegates regarding the propagation and processing of this amazing tree that grows abundantly in southern Haiti. The breadfruit can be dried and ground into flour to supplement income and food in the home. Dr. Paul Rudenberg, DVM reminded delegates of the assets of farmer knowledge and experience which can be accessed and appreciated through teaching and training with participatory methodologies. He emphasized that mutual learning can occur between “teacher” and “student” when all participants’ knowledge is understood as valuable and participants are invited to share rather than idly receive outside knowledge deposited by an “expert.”  

Innovative solutions to relevant problems and challenges were also presented at the conference. Caritas presented their work to alleviate damage caused by the sweet potato weevil, an insect which has ravaged the Haitian sweet potato crop. They have found two different integrated pest management techniques to hold promise for reducing the pest problem: 1) intercropping lantana with sweet potato cuttings to drive off weevil populations and 2) using a pheromone trap to attract and kill male weevils and reduce weevil reproduction. There was also widespread interest in an inga-maize alley cropping system presented by Ricardo Romero that has been practiced for almost a decade in Honduras and holds potential for producing high yields of maize in Haiti while simultaneously building the soil and producing fuelwood. New methods, techniques, and ideas were eagerly received, and people left with new motivation to creatively respond to problems in their own context.

The entire week of the conference built on the momentum and movement God has cultivated in Haiti through networks of missionaries and agriculture workers through the years and more recently in response to Hurricane Matthew and other challenges. The speakers and participants expressed their commitment to work break the chain of hunger that inhibits Haitian development, which is in turn a manifestation of faith in Christ and the power of Christ in the world. People affirmed that it is God’s plan for the land to give people food and that this is true for Haiti now.

This Blog was written by Kelly Wilson a ECHO intern.  

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Konferans Agrikol Delegate Visits South

On Monday, August 15th 2016, three of the Konferans Agrikol Sid committee members traveled over southern Haiti visiting some of the delegates from KAS 2016. This was done in an effort to encourage planters / delegates to apply and try out, techniques and or ideas from the conference. And also to help us as a committee stay connected to delegates, try to better understand each one's individual situations, what was being applied from KAS 2016 and to help us understand which subjects to focus on for KAS 2017, which by the way is planned to be held in LaBaleine the last week in June. So mark your calenders.

In this blog I will try to cover the highlights of the trip with some photos. I would love to write about all the stops, but the post would become quite lengthy! We visited 10 delegates plus a couple of other organisations and planters along the way. The three members of the committee that went on the trip were Etienne Francios, Clint Bower and myself Bryan Beachy.

Clint and I left Miragoane Monday morning around 8:00 am. We met up with Etienne at his house, grabbed a bite to eat and it was off for the first visit. Our first stop was with Marie Claudette and agronomist Lugludger with the American university of  Les Cayes where they are working along with CIAT, researching 30 different varieties rice in which are higher in zinc, in an effort to produce more nutritious rice for Haitians. This year they will narrow down the varieties to the top 5 in yield, plant output "density" and short plants as tall plants is not wanted in Haiti for fear of wind damage.

The second stop was with agronomist Pierre Angelo Joseph were him and a planters group is experimenting in a dryer area of Haiti where there is no irrigation available. They are trying to grow corn in the second rainy season in search of higher market prices, since corn is out of season this time of year. Pictured below is MR Angelo and the president of their planters group in a hot pepper garden just planted, that they're trying out in search of a higher market value crop as this area mainly grows corn and beans because of no irrigation. The pepper garden was around 32 santyem, "1 acre"
The next stop, Jean Ronald Maxi with Apostolic Christian Harvest call working on their dairy project. It was interesting visiting their farm and seeing where they are experimenting on forages for cattle and also have made a man powered hay baler where they're experimenting with feed storage for the dry season. 

That was all for Les Cayes and it was off to Port-à-Piment to visit Paul Dit Gedeon. He was happy to supply us with coconuts for a afternoon snack and to show us his garden of everything from cashew trees, bananas, eggplant, peppers, corn, cassava and amaranth, where he since the conference started applying mulch and incorporated a hog pen to his garden for manure, he explained how the conference helped open his eyes to the importance of taking care of the soil so it can take care of you.

The last and final stop for the day before heading back to Les Cayes was Les Anglais, there we ate supper at Etienne's in law's house and after supper took a walk to visit a agro-forestry plot that Etienne's organisation planted around 20 years ago. It was very beautiful and refreshing to see. there were around 12 different kinds of mangos in this one plot. The caretaker of the garden (Left)

The second day started bright and early. A few of Etienne's friends from his club, Passion For Haiti wanted to tag along so we loaded up and it was off to Les Irios a 107 mile trip to far west edge of Haiti with some not so good roads along the way. Roughly 7 hr drive. 

The first stop was at around 9:00 am in the town of Duchity were Etienne's father lives. We got to meet Etienne's dad, some bananas, bread and coffee and back on the road. Next stop Jèrèmie, where we tried some konparet, "licorice flavored biscuits" Something I'd never ate before, they weren't to bad. 

We then met up with agronomist Wagaus for a quick tour of the campus for the organization he works with CTH. He went on to explain how the conference helped him to see the value in Moringa and Chaya and how he's encouraging his planter groups to use these in their diets as they can be a big help to their nutrition. He noted how ironic it was that both these plants were all over their area, and people weren't utilizing them.

We finally arrived in Les Irios around 2:00 pm, we drove to agronomist Sadonique's house where we were going to be staying for the night, we cleaned up a little and headed for our friend Betly's house to eat a early supper, after which we explored his little farm of everything from chickens, ducks, geese, turtles and rabbits. Very interesting to say the least. Later that night Sadonique asked us if we would meet with their planters association ARDI to give the planters some words of encouragement. We all introduced ourselves and then after had a good discussion time. Etienne encouraged them to keep working hard and to keep building on what they already have. Plant cacao trees and hopefully some time soon we can have a exporting market to sell too! He stressed the point of not sitting with our arms folded, waiting for some organisation to come help them and save the day. And that only Haitians can develop Haiti! Don't think we need foreigners to develop Haiti or it won't ever happen, it starts with me! 
I thought they were very open to Etienne's counsel and left seeming to be inspired! We ate conch and fried plantains afterwards and then walked down the road back to Sadonique's house for the night. We slept on top of his house under the stars. (Below) Meeting with planters association ARDI.

The third day started with maybe one of the most inspiring stories I've ever heard of. A man in a wheelchair, paralyzed from his hips down since a youth who built a school and planted a forest! We walked to his house as he's just down the road from where we slept, we had the opportunity to meet him and he shared his story with us about how he organized groups of children from town to come and help him do the work since he wasn't able to from his wheelchair, and together they planted over 3 acres of trees and now is a mature forest! This was a good reminder to us all of what we can do if we put our mind to it!

  We then went to visit some cacao plantations, some that have been there for over 100 years from what they said. And a couple that have been planted in the last couple years by the planters association that Sadonique and Betly are in ARDI. The dream of their group is to keep increasing cacao production in their area and hopefully somehow down the road have a processing plant there to do the fermentation process and export the cacao for a better market price. They shared how currently in their area there is only one cacao buyer coop that exports which buys the majority of the cacao in south western Haiti and therefore the market is controlled by that one buyer which causes poor market prices for their cacao. We also visited some of the greenhouses in which they're planting coco trees and also visited the graft specialist of their area. He had a couple trees at his house that we got to see that were grafted by him.

 (Below) A picture of a 3 yr old planting, old soccer field turned into a garden! And on the right a grafted cacao tree.

(Pictured above) Top left is a cacao greenhouse at one of the planter's house and on the right is a cacao tree full of cacao.

On the way back to Les Cayes Wednesday afternoon we stopped in Dame Marie at the cacao processing coop I touched on earlier. Here they buy the cacao green from the local farmers and properly ferment and dry it in order to get a product of higher quality for the international market.
(Pictured above) The cacao coop and (Below) The fermenting boxes where the cacao is fermented for 3-6 days before going to drying racks.

Thursday day 4 started with us heading to Les Cayes to sit in with the Club Passion For Haiti meeting. The club is made up of anyone from agronomist to students studying agronomy, nursing or even engineering, a group of people that has decided to put the heads together "Tet ansanm" a creole term for pulling together or collaboration one with another, to make a difference in Haiti. Thursday morning the meeting was a agriculture debate. It was interesting and encouraging to sit in and hear their thoughts and solutions to challenges here in Haiti. (Pictured Right) P.F.H. meeting.

We then headed out to see some gardens that agronomist Dachna a KAS delegate and her husband are doing along with volunteer labor from the P.F.H. Club. One was a 1.5 acre hot pepper garden. they are doing a experiment by planting part of it with the Foundation For Farming technique taught at the conference. This includes adding natural compost to each plant when planting and then mulching it.
The other experiment they are working on is with bananas. They planted a couple different varieties with a couple different methods of treatment when planting.

After the visit to the banana gardens we headed towards home for our final stop of the trip, Plaisance-du-Sud. This is an area in which the club P.F.H. is also working in cacao planting and we had a delegate there we wanted to visit from the conference, MR Frederic Jeudy. We got there and were very encouraged to find that he had made a very large cold compost pile and is planning on using the compost for planting cacao trees and planting corn and beans with the Foundations For Farming technique. We were very happy to catch up with him, and drink his sweet coconuts that he had got together for us! We then visited a garden close by his house where P.F.H. has been working on planting cacao trees with their volunteers. The field we visited had around 400 three month old cacao trees growing.

And that is the conclusion of the delegate visits for the south. We were very encouraged to see the amount of work that is being done to improve agriculture here in Haiti!
We are planning on visiting the KAS 2016 delegates from northern Haiti sometime in October, We will Lord willing update the blog after that trip and maybe have more information for KAS 2017.

God Bless, The committee.

Wednesday, July 13, 2016

Konferans Agrikol Sid Regional Conference

"K.A.S." Konferans Agrikol Sid / Agricultural Conference South was held on June 28-30, 2016 in LaBaleine Haiti. An effort to assemble people working in agriculture, from Agronomists, Community leaders, Ag development workers, to Farmers. A effort to bring hope and inspire. The vision for KAS; to see the Gospel and Light of Jesus Christ spread throughout our communities by coming together to learn and share successful techniques of caring for what God has given us, and then taking what we learned, going out implementing what we learn into our communities.    

KAS was hosted by HRM at their headquarters in LaBaleine Haiti, A small town in the 4th section of Aquin, Sud, Haiti. And was planned/organized by a group of Ag development workers in the country of Haiti. Billy Oram "Genesis 2:15 Ministries" Etienne Francois "Passion for Haiti" Clint Bower "Agri-Plis" Bryan Beachy & Josiah Karn "Haiti Relief & Missions Gode" and Jesse Myer, Preston Brechbill & Richard Buissereth "Haiti Relief & Missions LaBaleine"

There were 81 delegates representing 37 different organizations. Each morning started with breakfast and then Chapel which included singing and worship. Followed by two 45 minute teaching sessions by two preliminary speakers. Followed by a noon meal and it was off to the fields for practical workshops from 12:30 - 4:30. Networking/Sharing for 1 hr, Supper from 5:30-6:30 and then off to the main auditorium for evening sessions on various topics of agriculture.


The main focus on the conference was Conservation Agriculture, Soil life, Agroforestry/Reforestation and Animal Husbandry/Animal Health.

The first topic for day one was, The Vetiver System by Darius Jolbert. Some of the points he stressed were how the soil is one of the most important aspects of farming and being able to receive a harvest. If we don't protect our gardens from erosion by making living terraces, how will our children be able to cultivate the ground we farm now if its conditions is on a steady decline in stead of a steady incline.

Darius Jolbert's workshop, explaining the simple but very effective and practical side of the vetiver system. The use of the A frame to determine contour, plant preparation, the importance of tight plant spacing when planting,

Billy Oram (Rhoda Beutler Translating) with the second topic, "FFF" Foundations For Farming. He gave the amazing life story of Brian Aldridge and how FFF was founded on biblical principals. Being good stewards of what God has given us, by not wasting the resources he's given us. Protecting the soil with God's blanket "Mulch"        


Josiah Karn doing the workshop on the FFF system (top)
DR. Kelly Crowdis having a workshop on Donkey & Mule Health (bottom)

We had a conference theme song that we learned and sang together multiple times through out each day to help motivate each other and take action! Above is Etienne Francois and a couple of his friends teaching the audience the theme song.

Wednesday, Day two started with Rhoda Beutler speaking about underutilized plants. Haiti has a abundant supply of edible plants full of nutrition. Rhoda spent time explaining how valuable some of the plants can be if added to a diet. Some of the main plants Rhoda talked about were, Haitian Basket Vine, Moringa, Chaya/Fle Papay, Cranberry Hibiscus, Roselle and Grain Amaranth. 

The Second speaker was Brian Flanagan who spoke on the subject of Agroforestry. Brian has worked in Haiti in the field of Agroforestry and therefore had some very helpful insights on what to do and what doesn't always work the best. Also had some very helpful insights on the business side of it, making sure there is a market for the fruit you plant. Do your home work because Agroforestry is a long term project.

The afternoon work shops on day two consisted of Rhoda Beutler cooking underutillized crops and having all the delegates sample the food. (Top) Kelly Crowdis giving a educational talk/workshop on rabies. (Middle)  Brian Flanagan taking the delegates on a tour through a Saman/Mango/Coffee Agroforestry plot established in 1999 by a development worker in LaBaleine.(Bottom photo)

Thursday, Day three started with Pierre Angelo Joseph talking about Reforestation. He gave some shocking numbers about Haiti, Haiti has the highest rate of deforestation compared to all other countries, 80% of Haiti was originally forested and only 2% of Haiti's original forests ramain. He shared some encouraging stories of a group he is involved with in reforesting areas of Haiti.

The second topic on Thursday was on Soil Life by Brad Ward. This is always a topic that draws allot of attention and interest. The Science of soil and the thought of the soil being alive was brought out and a new thought to many of the delegates. Also Brad explained the food chain in the soil and how if you take one away the chain breaks. Brad also expressed the vital point of ground cover and composting. 

The workshops on day three were on, Composting by Bryan Beachy, making hot compost in the photo above, Bryan also talked about the deep liter composting system with hogs and vermiculture. (Top) Underutilized plants workshop by Rhoda Beutler. In this workshop Rhoda covered the different plants, how to harvest, care for and propigate. (Middle) Green Manure Cover Crops by Clint Bower, planting leguminous crops such as, Jack Bean and Velvet Bean to cover the ground while growing, fix nitrogen, then cover the ground for the coming crop and decompose on the ground adding to the humis. (Bottom) 

Above are misc pictures from the conference. 

Thanks to all who helped to make this conference possible. To God be the glory.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Grand North Regional Conference

Preparations are underway for a regional Konferans Agrikol for the Grand North June 9-13, 2014.

The guiding committee is composed of the following organizations:

From left, Enoch Firmin, Rosedanie Cadet, and Alexandre Wilkens.  Not Pictured, Rhoda Beutler and Mesidor Alix.
Committee members are volunteers. The conference is funded primarily through registration fees, and historically, active organizations and individuals interested in Haiti have contributed through donations of books, voluntarily speaking to share within their subject of expertise, allowing use of a vehicle for field trips, donations of money for general expenses, book scholarships, or delegate scholarships.

The goal of the conference is to bring together delegates from actively working in the domain of agriculture and sustainable development for exchange, cross-learning, stimulating presentations, and hands-on workshops.  The target audience is the technician or agronomist level who is working directly with people.  Organizations should choose one female and one male at this level to represent the organization and to transmit information learned back to others in the organization and the communities with which they work.

The theme of the conference is Isaiah 58, and the key verse is Isaiah 58:11 "You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail." The central topic is land care.

The conference will be held at the UCNH campus, with registration taking place Monday, conference sessions Tuesday and Thursday, and field trips Wednesday.  Delegates will have Friday breakfast provided before they travel home that day.

Registration fee of 4000 gourdes covers the cost of the following items:

  • All meals from Monday evening to Friday morning
  • Housing in the student dormitories on the UCNH campus
  • All conference materials
  • Transportation for the Wednesday field trips
Registration fee does not cover the following items:
  • Transportation to and from the conference
  • Items purchased in the bookstore
  • Conference photo and CD recording

Grand North is the region of Haiti covering the departments of the North, Northwest, Northeast, Artibonite, and Center.

For information in Haitian Kreyol, please visit
For a registration form or more information, please contact the Secretary for Konferans Agrikol: Eddy-Jean Etienne or 509-3730-5268

Friday, November 8, 2013

Charye Conference for Unirrigated Sloping Land

August 28-31, 2013 was a gathering for representatives of organizations working in the Artibonite Valley region of Haiti but particularly for those on mountain land depending on rain for irrigation.

The Organization for Development Against Misery, ODCM, hosted and organized the conference at their headquarters in Charye, in the Communal Section of Lachapelle.

42 delegates represented various organizations in the region.  Morning sessions focused on teaching, exchange, and discussion.  Each afternoon included a practical session tied in with the morning teaching.

The first day focused on Soil Conservation, and Agronom Magloire explained several key steps.  First, always start at the top of the slope to protect it first so you don't waste your effort when water from above washes away your interventions. Lay out a reference line of stakes down the entire height of the hill to mark where your contours will be.

Always use an A-Frame Level to determine the contour, perpendicular to the main flow of water descending the hill.  Before we left for the field exercise, we built and calibrated the A-Frame as a group.

  The hill before we started work.
 Setting the first stake as a reference for the contour line.
 Preparing the land next to the row of stakes to create a good base for the large rocks that are the first to be placed.

 Placing the first rocks. Agronom Magloire reminded us that the choice of rocks has to be very careful so that they fit together smoothly.  The finished rock wall should be so strong that anyone can walk on it without any rocks wobbling or being knocked aside by climbing goats.

Continuing with the placement of large rocks, then filling in with small rocks.

Jeremie Conference Field Trip Highlights

Thursday was a day set aside for field trips to organizations working in the area.  The delegates divided into two groups, one that went to the area around Gebaud and then into the town of Jeremie and another which went further to Chambellan to see hillsides forested with breadfruit trees and cacao plantations.

When fruit and other permanent crops are a large part of the farm income, the hillsides can remain protected by vegetation, and the rivers can continue to run clear.

ROPAGA (the Network of Peasants Organizations of Grand Anse) is working to encourage greater utilization and productivity of fruit trees, and they hosted us for a tour of their fruit tree nurseries.

They are also working with several other forest products, including honey.  They have members of their organization who construct the hives (supers), and at the time of one of the pre-conference visits were fulfilling a contract for a quantity at 2000 gdes per box (roughly $50 US dollars).

The use of the rectangular boxes instead of a simpler top-bar hive or the traditional hollow log allows the beekeeper to keep the queen and the baby bee larvae separated from the honey-filled comb. Then at harvest time, the comb can be taken without diminishing the population of the bees.  In addition, the frames can be spun in a centrifuge, allowing the bees to start filling the comb again without having to expend the energy to rebuild the comb first.

The honey in a top-bar hive and a hollow log cannot be harvested without destroying the comb and at least a few bees.

The beekeepers showed how to protect against stings by covering skin and hair with gloves, long sleees, and a mesh face shield over a hat while using smoke to keep the bees focused on the honey instead of attacking the intruders.

A highlight of the day was seeing a master tree climber use two ropes to bring himself quickly to the top of a palm tree.  He used one loop to support his left thigh and used the other loop to make a step for his right foot. He then balanced on one side at a time while he raised or lowered the opposite loop. Dr. Paul also gave the method a try.

The next stop for the field trip was a private farm near Gebaud. The farmer wanted to showcase the contrast between the land where he had been practicing multi-story agriculture and an adjoining parcel where he cleared the land to plant vegetables.

At the same time, we saw a section of land closer to the river which had been planted with vegetables and bananas, but which was completely washed away by Hurricane Sandy, which had come through the area the weekend before.

The final stop was the city center.  The Catholic Church on the plaza overlooks a statue commemorating "les Trois Dumas," the three generations of Dumas writers with their heritage in Jeremie, including Alexandre Dumas, author of "The Three Musketeers".

No trip to Jeremie is complete without komparet, the local specialty sweet bread with cinnamon, ginger, coconut, and a few raisins for decoration. This shop is just up the hill from the main square, and everyone enjoyed a fresh-baked snack.

 The final stop before the end of the day was to see the shop where Caritas markets some of their "transformed products" like jelly, cocoa, cremas, and roasted peanuts.  These are produced by women's cooperatives in various local parishes around the region, and Caritas supports them with training,  recipes and packaging materials.