Growing Your Own

Written by: Gordon Clark, H4H Horticultural Consultant

Haiti imports rice, vegetable oils, wheat, cane sugar, milk, chicken, fuel and more. What happens when foods and fuel stop coming? Its hard not to notice that there are looming shortages of vegetables and meats in the US. Meat packing plants have closed because of employee illness, crops are left rotting in the fields because there is no one to pick them, and supermarket shelves are empty because of panic buying. Already some countries are limiting their food exports of rice and wheat.

Here are ways that PHF and its support from Harvesting 4 Haiti are tackling this problem:

  • Using locally grown food. Breadfruit grows wild but is very perishable. By drying and processing the fruit into flour its shelf life is extended and it can be used as a substitute for imported flour. Fufu is another flour made from yams, cassava, or plantain.
  • Multiple cropping. Rows of mango, lime, and soursop trees have been planted and while these saplings grow to maturity, vegetable and legume crops have been planted between the rows
  • Increasing Production. Traditionally, the productivity of crops grown in Haiti is way below the potential yields due to poor soil fertility and increasingly lack of rainfall. By growing cover crop/green manures yields can increase dramatically. 
  • Growing and Processing Non-Traditional Crops. Easy-to-grow moringa trees provide critical nutritional and health benefits with minimal processing. 
  • Ongoing investigation of other food sources: using SRI (System of Rice Intensification) to quadruple yields, using crops such as velvet bean, cowpeas and moringa as animal and fish food  to replace the expensive imported components of feeds.
  • Using appropriate technology that doesn’t require imported fuel. Human power, solar drying, solar powered irrigation all get the job done without relying on expensive or unavailable fuel.

The global situation will require Haiti to produce more to avoid widespread hunger and malnutrition and I am proud to support and encourage PHF as they stay the course through earthquakes, hurricanes, political upheaval and now COVID 19.

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