Supporting small-holders and mostly women in sustainable production and marketing of tubers, through innovative techniques at all value-chain levels, Haiti, Grand’Anse region (ActionAid Haiti - AAH)
In early 2018, Action Aid Haiti (AAH) approached the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), to collaborate in a project that in the context of climate change, would promote the production of environmentally sustainable crops, and reduce the vulnerability of persons particularly women in rural communities. CTA, based on its mandate and strategic plan for the Caribbean region, agreed to this collaboration. Hence the genesis to this 15-month cost-sharing project entitled ‘Supporting small-holders and mostly women in sustainable production and marketing of tubers, through innovative techniques at all value-chain levels, Haiti, Grand’Anse region (ActionAid Haiti - AAH). Valued at two hundred, and sixty-seven Euros (€267,469), this project sought to reduce the vulnerability of 700 people (including 500 farmers and 200 traders referred to as Madan Sara). Of this total sum, €200,000 came from the CTA and € 67,469 from AAH. The project had four components, namely:
Appropriate technologies adapted to climate change are adopted by farmers to increase production.Producers trained and equipped to address post-harvest issues.Storage and transport systems tailored to contribute to reducing losses during transport; andThe sale of tubers to lucrative domestic marketsThe project was officially launched on October 25, 2018 and implemented between September 2018 and February 2020 in three (3) communities within the department of Grand’Anse, i.e. Beaumont, Reeds and Apricots.
By the end of the project, five hundred (500) farmers received training in production practices and thirty-seven (37) farmers in seed multiplication. Seven hundred twenty-five (725) receive seeds. Four hundred ninety-seven producers (497) received training in got post-harvest management practices. Five hundred twenty-five (525) kits of post-harvest management equipment were distributed to project beneficiaries. Three storage centres were rehabilitated, primarily to store tubers after harvest and before transport to the market. Distributed at a rate of three per participant was one thousand five hundred (1,500) garden baskets. Two hundred (200) Madan Saras received training in micro-enterprise management. A study of the markets in Jeremiah, Les Cayes and Port-au-Prince was done, and subsequently, this information was shared with project participants.In terms of the project’s impact, because of its short duration, when it came to an end, the tangible changes expected to occur because of the intervention, were not immediately visible. A period of drought after the planting of tubers will have a direct impact on final yields. However, based on the number of tubers planted, it is projected that there should be an increase of more than 40% in the area planted in yam and a concomitant increase in tuber production. In the case of yams, the measurement of the reduction in post-harvest losses was not possible. Malanga and sweet potato had an estimated loss of 5%. Losses during transport to markets in Port au Prince was not measured; however, the training of Madans Sara will empower them in their selection of tubers that are suitable for transportation.
Despite the unclear impact of the project, a significant outcome is that if not all, most producers claim to have applied the new technologies. A noticeable number, however, reported difficulty in paying labour to prepare yam holes. It is, therefore, reasonable to expect a general curtailing of technology application and the anticipated increases in aggregate income. Between Madans Saras and buyers, there was no formal contractual arrangement. Despite this, the majority of Madans Saras indicated that they have better knowledge to sell their products and were empowered to improve their sales. Some have pointed out that they have taken training sessions on tuber processing and need access to appropriate processing facilities.
Determined as critical factors in the success of this project were: excellent project management, staff recruitment, training, coordination and monitoring system; and the establishment of proper and transparent criteria for selecting target beneficiaries, particularly women.
During project execution, there were approved budget reallocations done to facilitate payment for conferences/seminars and professional services. In all instances, AAH made a formal request to CTA for reassignment, and these were subsequently approved. Except for the budget allocated for travel, the budgeted sums for all other expense items were exhausted. In general, contracting rules were respected and compliance with CTA’s procurement guidelines.
Salient constraints and problems encountered during the execution of the project were: The vast demand coming from persons domiciled in the three target communities for inclusion in the project. This demand was considerably more than the budget of the project could accommodate; periods of social instability throughout the country, which caused the postponement of project activities. Several periods of social unrest throughout the country coupled with no provision in the initial project budget for suitable transportation to enable project personnel’s movement in mountain areas, together triggered the delay of project activities.
Two of the salient lessons learnt from this project experience – especially for projects with durations that do not surpass the harvest period of crops intended to build food security. First, prior in-depth and timely target area baseline assessment is required to make proper business cases and establish appropriate impact indicators that justify the implementation of projects. Secondly, a project that is not of the magnitude that meets the needs of persons in a community recovering from the impact of climate-induced disasters has to have pre-programmed interventions crafted before the end of the project so that there can be sustainability and timely scale-up of output and effects.
AAH’s can scale up this project. The organization has the core competence to scale-up its geographic coverage of project activities. It has access to a small pool of trained field officers. Also, it has a robust project management system and associated procedures, that will allow it to meet the growing demand of agricultural producers and rural women needing support in their quest to improve their resilience and livelihoods sustainably.
With regards to sustainability, signalled and researched market opportunities create the incentive for yam producers to embrace climate-smart agricultural practices fully and continuously. It is through market-driven opportunities together with innovative market access arrangements that the small Haitian farmer and rural women will adopt the incentive needed to make them sustain climate-smart agricultural practices. CTA has proposed to AAH a US$ 2.5 Million 5-year follow-up project which in part calls for retrofitting of the refurbished buildings into a processing facility to produce yam chips as a snack food. That will open the opportunity for the community to earn sustained income from the sale of higher-value processed root crops.