Increased production and quality depend in part upon farmers changing their farming practices. AGRIDEV staff have introduced a number of tried and true techniques, such as pruning and grafting to increase tree crop productivity, introduction of newer, more productive crop varieties, and off season planting and harvesting to take advantage of market “windows” – times of the year when prices are highest.
Rehabilitation of irrigation systems: AGRIDEV staff have been very active and successful in the rehabilitation of irrigation systems on the Plain de Gonaives, Trois Riviere and elsewhere. Using an innovative contract model between private sector construction firms and water user associations, AGRIDEV is able to ensure efficient repair of physical infrastructure. Most important is our methodology for strengthening water user groups, including intensive water system management training, effective levying of water user fees, as well as the introduction and intensification of high-value crops which increase incomes while ensuring the longer term viability of the irrigation systems.
The combined effect of the interventions described above has led a significant change in the mindset of many Haitian farmers. Because they are able to make significant money from their production activities, they are becoming more interested in investing their labor and gourdes in improving their production systems. We have seen, for example, private nursery businesses spring up that sell seedlings to farmers without direct subsidies. We see significant adoption of the practices recommended by technicians, including pruning and grafting, use of better planting materials, and more attention to post harvest activities. The rural incentive system is evolving to the point where farmers see themselves as producers of products, rather than harvesters of donor subsidies without a stake in the future.