The Hagstrom Report

Agriculture News As It Happens

USAID opens centers to help Haitian farmers

The U.S. Agency for International Development has opened eight agricultural development centers in Haiti, USAID announced.

One of them, the Sustainable Rural Development Center in Bas Boen, opened on Sunday, which was Haiti’s National Agriculture and Labor Day, USAID said. The facilities are part of President Obama's “Feed the Future” program to reduce world hunger through country-led agricultural development projects, the news release said.

The Sustainable Rural Development Center will train farmers to use innovative agriculture techniques that will increase crop yields and boost incomes, USAID said. The five-hectare campus features a training center, warehouse, dormitory, three laboratories and a distance-learning facility that will be linked to the University of Florida to connect Haitian farmers to the expertise of U.S. agronomists.

Haitian farmers will learn how to analyze soil, identify pests, diagnose diseases that hamper crop production and learn to use techniques such as drip irrigation and fertilizer briquettes that reduce costs and boost yields.

Agriculture is central to the Haitian economy, generating nearly 25 percent of gross domestic product and employing more than 60 percent of the population, but declining crop production has plagued Haiti for 50 years, USAID said.

USAID expects to train thousands of farmers over the next few years, but will turn the new center over to Haitian institutions once it is running smoothly, the agency said.