In the background of a 60% unemployment rate, increasing cost of living that is exacerbated by environmental catastrophe, few options stand graduating students in Haiti. EDGE, Ecological Development for Growing Economy believes one possible path to success lies in the hand of the Haitian agronomists and their personal ties to their local community of farmer. EDGE recruits graduating/ed agronomists through its internship program to join EDGE's growing nursery association.
The association aspires to the following goals:
1)Sell seeds that are drought resilient, wind resistant, highly nutritious and of high commercial and agroforestry values to local farmers, reforestation efforts or foreign buyers through its own website.
2) Promote the creation for small scale in country value added production such as baked goods, cosmetics, and beverages from tree based product.
EDGE believes the impact of promoting a mixed superfood and general agroforestry seed economy will positively impact number of tree planted, adaptation of regenerative agricultural practices, increase economic gains for members in the network, improve overall nutrional intake and demonstrate a self sustaining model for continuous reforestation activities.
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This graph currently shows activities for the four sites.
Between January and March, the Grand Anse Nursery has planted more than 5400 trees, of which 1550 has germinated. In Cape Haitien, more than 2000 trees have been planted, of which 300 has germinated. Jacmel and Central Plateau have started nursery activities. Jacmel reports being delayed in part because of political situation. Central Plateau area nursery is waiting on seeding delivery.
Grand Anse is the first to receive an initial stock of purchased seeds and leads the way with 18% of its target goal of trees planted in the nursery. All other groups are still waiting for their purchased seed stock which is due to arrive before April. Cap-Haitien continues to pilot its community sponsored seed bank program and has planted more than 4389 seeds from January to March to make a 15% progress towards its goal of 30160 seeds by year's end. To guarantee Cape Haitien reaches its goals by the end of the year, Cape Haitien will also be receiving seeds before April from a dedicated seller.
Progress to 100K planted in nursery
Target: 30520 trees
Target: 30160 trees
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Central Plateau Area
Target: 11010 trees
Seeds were chosen according to several factors mainly resistance to droughts, strong winds, economic potentials, niche role in agroforesty and costs. Consultation with stakeholders determined weight distribution and preferences. Highest weight contribution however came from costs. Many of the seeds with highest economic potential also costs more per seed. Consequently, their total numbers were reduced to approximately 2000 per category to stay within budget.
For 2019, the bulk of the year's spending happens for purchases of seeds, preparing land, and in some cases purchasing materials to support the work. For purchasing 100,000 seeds the total costs came to 720 USD. Of the four sites, only three nurseries have paid managers and laborers located in Cape- Haitien, Jacmel and Grand Anse. In the Central Plateau, EDGE is experimenting with a new partnership with an established nursery under the St. Vincent Haiti organization
1.On the right, we see 4 horizontals rows of beds in the front and frour vertical beds in the rear. that have have been prepared in Grand Anse to receive the 30k+ seeds. The site is managed by agronomist Jean Mones Laurent, agronomist and student of Permaculture Thousands of trees were destroyed during Hurricane Sandy and Hurricane Matthew. Working with local associations of farmer, Mr. Laurent hopes to contribute to the landscape restoration and fortication of the region against disasters.
2.To date the biggest obstacle in planting more trees has been getting access to all the right seeds at the right time. In Cape- Haitien, efforts focused on community participation through a local seed exchange has led mixed results. While community members take pride in contributing seeds for their nursery. The process is slow and often times members are only able to bring seeds they already have, not necessarily those that they want. Additionally, since EDGE specializes on outdoor nurseries, it is critical to have the seeds in ground right before the rainy season. This year EDGE was able to bring to the network a dedicated local seed business that is able to deliver seeds to members. This will contribute greatly to reaching the 100k seedlings distributed for 2019.
3. In Cape Haitien, the native breadnut Artocarpus camansi has proven to be the most robust and appropriate to our growing conditions. This highly nutrititious plant is the first to germinate and is extremely drought tolerant. While there is a current global push by NGO for its cousin, the breadfruit,EDGE believes breadnut is a much more versatile. A post hurricane survey in Grand Anse revealed unlike the breadfruit, breadnut was much more resistant against strong winds in large part because of the presence of an anchoring tap root in breadnut. Additionally, breadnut grows from seed, where as the breadfruit grows from cutting. Both are highly valued commercial crops of high nutritional value and good carbon sequestering footprint.
4. In addition to baked goods, the Cape-Haitien team is also experimenting with production and sale of moringa soap. This is part of an overall effort of commercializing products from the nursery thus increasing impact for network members. Currently, the product sells mainly because of curiosity. Repeat purchases are low. Formulation with increased saponification would likely increase repeat purchases.
Some Activities to come
Increased networking between members.
Acquisition of coffee and cacao to meet demand in Jacmel.
Training in Jacmel and Grand Anse on community based seed exchange and nursery management
Visit of all nurseries
Putting together website for the network
Development of marketing plan for website.
Additional experimentation on moringa soap to increase saponifcation.
Intro to permaculture or agroforestry programming at each each site.