Research officials from Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture and an R&D center crisscrossed the Sunshine State recently to soak up knowledge about the University of Florida’s agricultural research and education centers, Florida agribusinesses, state regulation and natural resource protection.
“Our overall conclusion is that, obviously, the difference in the standard of living and technology between the two countries is phenomenal,” said Pierre Garry Augustin, director of the Directorate of Innovation, the research, training and extension arm of Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture. “That said, we were very surprised to find out how willing the university was to share information and help us to improve Haiti’s agricultural sector.”
The fact-finding trip was sponsored by the UF-managed Feed the Future Haiti Appui à la Recherche et au Développement Agricole (AREA) project, which is working closely with Haiti’s government, universities and farming sector to strengthen Haiti’s capacity to improve its agriculture sector and reduce the country’s chronic food insecurity.
Six officials from the Haiti Directorate of Agriculture, two representatives of a Haiti rural research and development center, and USAID Agreement Officer Reginald Toussaint joined UF/IFAS researchers and staff members on the tour. They all piled in a 15-passenger van driven by Rose Koenig, interim director of IFAS Global and principal investigator of the UF-managed Feed the Future Haiti AREA project. Lemâne Delva, research director of AREA in Haiti, also served as a guide and one of several translators.
By the way, both Delva and Toussaint are natives of Haiti — and Gators. Delva possesses a doctorate in food science and human nutrition from the University of Florida, while Toussaint earned a master’s degree in 2013 from UF in interdisciplinary ecology with a concentration in soil and water science. Toussaint now serves as a food security and agroforestry specialist in Haiti for the U.S. Agency for International Development, and he oversees AREA on behalf of USAID, which funded the project.
AREA is a project funded by the U.S. Agency for Development and managed by the University of Florida’s Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences to combat food insecurity in Haiti by helping build its agricultural research, extension and education capacity. Learn more.