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AREA Hosts International Conference on Agricultural Research in Haiti

En français

In one of his first public appearances since he was appointed, Haiti’s new Minister of Agriculture Patrice Sévére spoke at the conference about the importance of such a major collaborative event in helping Haiti address food insecurity.

PÉTION-VILLE, Haiti, March 10, 2020 – More than 140 scholars, researchers and Haiti agricultural experts gathered to share knowledge and build relationships at the first day of an international conference on agricultural research and innovation hosted by Feed the Future Appui à la Recherche et au Développement Agricole (AREA) project.

The March 10-11 conference at the Karibe Hotel & Convention Center in Pétion-Ville has three main objectives: Present the results of research by AREA researchers and partner institutions and organizations; facilitate sharing of information between stakeholders in the agricultural sector; and foster networking aimed at sparking collaborative programs among researchers.

This conference is being held as the University Florida-managed AREA project enters its fifth year under a cooperative agreement with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). Since its launch in May 2015, AREA has implemented numerous agricultural research and extension programs – all aligned with the priorities identified by its partner, Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development (MARNDR).

Among the many attendees at the major scientific event were Haiti’s Minister of Agriculture Patrice Sévére, representatives from USAID, including USAID Haiti’s Chief of Economic Growth and Agricultural Development J.W. Camilien Saint-Cyr, deans, professors and scholars from AREA partner universities, and professionals from research centers across Haiti.

Attendees sign in for the research program on diagnosing and managing plant diseases that plague Haiti.

The conference is focused on the results and accomplishments of research programs carried out in seven priority areas: (1) Agroclimatology and strategies for how farmers can adapt to increasingly variable climate conditions variabilities; (2) Studies and research to tackle the challenges of higher agricultural education in Haiti; (3) Research on plant diseases and pests with emphasis on strategic crops such as beans, plantains, sorghum, rice, corn, sweet potatoes and vegetable crops; (4) Agricultural extension and the gender issues in agriculture; (5) Agronomy and agronomic practices that facilitate better management of soil fertility; (6) Crop improvement, particularly beans, sorghum and corn; (7) Postharvest technologies and food safety with a focus on research to reduce aflatoxins in foods.

The conference includes four plenary sessions including the official launch and closing ceremonies, a session on AREA’s execution strategies and major achievements, and a special presentation on the current state of agricultural innovation in Haiti. Attendees will participate in numerous sessions on AREA research programs, as well as a special information session on the professional resources for scientific writing. Exhibits will display a variety of innovations and technologies introduced by AREA. Finally, to promote the emergence of young researchers capable of stimulating the development of the agricultural sector, 15 young graduates from the partner institutions of higher education in Haiti will present posters highlighting their theses work.

AREA Chief of Party Maurice Wiener (left), and Drs. Caroline Staub, Rose Koenig and Lemâne Delva greet new Haiti Agricultural Minister Patrice Sévère at the kickoff of AREA’s two-day international conference on agricultural research in Haiti.

AREA expects that the participants will learn of the importance of agricultural research and how the results produced by the project can help stimulate innovation and increase agricultural production in Haiti. The conference will also allow participants to identify priorities for future directions in agricultural research and innovation.

Franky Célestin (left) talks with conference attendees about some of the critical research being conducted to improve the fertility of Haiti’s soil. Célestin is one of 20 students supported by the AREA project who recently graduated from the University of Florida with Master of Science degrees and returned (or will soon return) to Haiti to put to work the knowledge and skills they gained. Célestin now works for the AREA project as a soil fertility specialist.

Among AREA’s accomplishments:   

  • Executed a large-scale project to evaluate three models of extension and determine the best ways to transfer new technologies, tools and high-yielding varieties of crops to Haitian farmers.
  • Developed four advanced lines of beans that perform better than local varieties.
  • Equipped the phytopathology laboratories of the Plant Protection Department (DPV) of MARNDR and the CRDD of Bas Boën Rural Center for Agricultural Extension and Development (CRDD) with essential tools including microscopes and laboratory flow hoods, and built an isolation room to facilitate the diagnosis of plant diseases at the Bas Boën CRDD.
  • Installed six modern weather stations in the project intervention areas to provide farmers and researchers with up-to-date agroclimate data.
  • Trained thousands of students, professionals from public and private institutions, and farmers on subjects ranging from reducing postharvest losses to techniques to manage and analyze agroclimatic data,
  • Supported 25 Haitian graduate students to attend the University of Florida and Louisiana State University. To date, 19 of these students have graduated with Master of Science degrees and returned to work in the agricultural sector.
  • Sparked numerous improvements in curricula made by Haitian faculty who participated in a Faculty Development Academy, which AREA created to modernize and improve agricultural education at institutes of higher education.
  • Produced comprehensive soil maps and developed recommendations for how farmers can improve soil fertility, such as using specific cover crops and formulas of fertilizers depending on soil attributes.
  • Provided grants to support university researchers and instructors at universities and research centers who needed materials and tools to improve their research and to improve agricultural instruction.
  • Funded pilot research projects allowing beneficiaries to gain experience in writing and executing research programs.

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Press Contacts: AREA Director of Research Lemâne Delva, Ph.D., lemane.delva@ufl.edu, 509 48 93 73 47; communications specialist Remixon Guillaume, remixonguillaume@ufl.edu, 509 48 46 41 26.

About the AREA project: The Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences at the University of Florida is leading a consortium of U.S. universities to support its Feed the Future initiative in Haiti. The consortium’s mission is to help Haiti develop and strengthen its agricultural innovation system and increase production, household incomes and food security. The project is funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development as part of the Feed the Future program, the U.S. government’s global initiative for food and food security. For more information, visit https://area.ifas.ufl.edu.

About Feed the Future: Feed the Future, America’s global hunger and food security initiative, aims to transform lives toward a world where people no longer face extreme poverty, undernutrition and hunger. To achieve this, Feed the Future works hand-in-hand with partner countries to develop their agriculture sectors and break the cycle of poverty and hunger. For more information, visit https://www.feedthefuture.gov/.