CIAT’s partnership with Haiti has gained new strength, as a result of the recent visit of a delegation from the country’s Ministry of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development (MARNDR).
Discussions and activities aimed at putting Haiti on a path toward eco-efficient agriculture began in August of this year, with a visit from Kanayo Nwanze, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), to CIAT’s headquarters in Colombia.
In harmony with Haiti’s 3-year agriculture recovery plan, aimed at improving food security, reversing land degradation, and stimulating economic growth, the Ministry and CIAT have identified several key areas in which the Center can contribute through technology development and capacity strengthening. The two institutions solidified their mutual commitments during a 4-day visit to the Center, which brought together representatives from MARNDR, IFAD, farmer groups, and other stakeholders in the development of Haiti’s agriculture.
“By forging and renewing partnerships with the R&D sector, we’re raising the bar for Haiti’s rural development,” said Thomas Jacques, the country’s Minister of Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Rural Development. “To deliver on heightened expectations, Haiti must expand its production systems and markets, and reverse degradation of the soil and land.”
CIAT had significant operations in Haiti for 10 years from 2000 to 2010, with reduced research activities taking place during disaster recovery after an earthquake devastated the country in January 2010.
Haiti – where 6.7 million people are struggling to meet their food needs – faces a number of obstacles to its rural development. The country has considerable potential to reduce its dependence on imported food – which accounts for more than 50% of current supplies. But efforts to realize this potential have been hindered by land degradation, poor quality seed, and farmers´ limited access to other inputs, together with weak market linkages and limited capacity in research for development.
With the aim of reducing those constraints, CIAT in close collaboration with the Ministry, are laying the groundwork for a major 5-year effort. During the recent learning visit, which focused on the potential of technology transfer and planning workshops, they began developing an integrated program designed to strengthen food security, foster economic development and environmental sustainability, and strengthen institutional capacity at all levels.
“Getting up to date on CIAT’s work with national programs in other countries, like Rwanda and Burundi, and learning more about activities at the Center’s headquarters has convinced us that this renewed partnership can produce considerable impact for Haitian communities,” said Pierre Guy Lafontant, MARNDR’s director general. “Capacity strengthening is a key requirement for turning our vision into a sustainable reality. We want to apply new knowledge about improved seed systems, develop value chains, and adopt other innovations.”
Haiti’s recovery plan and its renewed cooperation with CIAT provide a solid foundation for building new partnerships capable of catalyzing long-term development in the country.
With its record of significant impact and strong networks in the region, CIAT is expanding the reach of its research in Latin America and the Caribbean – with Haiti as an important focal point.