Agriculture and Labor Day in Haiti
From MFK Agriculture Research and Extension Program Specialist, James M. Blanc.
May 1st is a national holiday in Haiti to commemorate Agriculture and Labor in the country. For this year’s commemoration, all eyes were directed towards Cap Haitien and the whole northern region of Haiti. The Haitian government announced that Cap Haitien and the north region were the areas chosen to celebrate this day. The biggest official events were celebrated in Cap Haitien and a small community in the Northeast known as Marion in the commune of Grand Bassin.
An agricultural-industrial fair was held downtown in Cap Haitien, on the boulevard by the ocean. In a festive atmosphere of animation, exhibition, and information sharing around the theme “Ann jere dlo pou sove lavi,”(Let’s manage water to save lives,) the fair gave the opportunity for producers/business owners, and artisans to exhibit their products and reflect on this day. Agricultural process industries were able to showcase their products and services derived from agricultural products grown in Haiti.
According to the government, this was an opportunity to highlight the work being done by Haitian farmers because all of the products being exhibited are derived from farmers’ products. There were also colorful street parades and cultural activities in Cap Haitien and some other major cities in the country. The MFK Agriculture team took part in this event by visiting the showcase of the different local products, especially products made out of peanuts. It was surprising that some producers that we spoke with and had products of peanuts or corns still have not heard of aflatoxins. The President, Jovenel Moise and his wife, and other members of the cabinet also took part in this event.
The main event was the inauguration of the second most important dam in Haiti, Marion Dam, after the one and only one built in 1953 in Central Plateau, Peligre Dam. The dam is built in a small community called Marion in the northeast of Haiti, which is the same area that MFK has its farmer training program. The president, Jovenel Moise, along with members of his cabinet, the minister of agriculture of the Dominican Republican, and Representative from the Cuban government proceeded with the inauguration of the hydroelectric dam of Marion. The dam is located about 30-45 mn from Cap-Haitien.
Thousands of local residents attended, and the Agriculture team from MFK proudly took part in this memorable event. The dam is presented as a megaproject financed completely by the Treasure public and cost about $10 million U.S. dollars with the technical support of the Cuban government. The dam will allow the irrigation of 10,000 ha (hectare) of land, as water remains the main limiting factor for farmers in this part of the country. MFK’s farmers have long been complaining about irrigation as their main obstacle, many farmers who are part of MFK’s program will benefit from this dam and it was in MFK’s best interest to be present on this inauguration day.
The intake canal is designed for flowing water of 450 cubic meters per second and will be fed by two underground pipes with a reservoir with a capacity of 10 million cubic meters and a 53 kW solar pumping station.
MFK remains hopeful that with the inauguration of this dam, things will improve for many farmers as they will be able to water their field and increase production. It’s one step closer that fits right in MFK’s mission for the last 10 years: Creating economic opportunities and provide extensive training for farmers in the north to increase production and the quality of their products.
Happy Agricultural and Labor Day to all farmers in Haiti! Please join MFK as we celebrate the hard work of the Haitian farmers!