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.