Agriculture Team Member Training

MFK has begun implementing two agricultural research projects with its partners the Technical Centre for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA) and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC). The CTA project is attempting to identify what foods are commonly grown in the region which will in turn help farmers grow a more diverse variety of food to enhance their household nutrition. As part of this grant, the MFK Agriculture team will be maintaining several demonstration gardens with community members as a way to show local growers the benefits of crop diversity. The IDRC project aims to categorize the peanut value chain in Haiti; surveying stakeholders to see what value they place on contaminated peanuts, and to understand how to bolster local demand for safe peanut products.  For this update the Agriculture Team would like for you to have a more in-depth look at the impact that the implementation of the CTA project will have not only on the development of our communities, but on the development of our staff as well.

MFK is dedicated to the long-term development of Haiti. One of the ways we achieve this is trough intensive skills transfers to our staff members. CTA funding has provided MFK the capacity to employ a team of six support staff members. These staff members are recent university graduates that have studied agriculture development at local universities, such as Université Roi Henri Christophe and Université Chrétienne du Nord d’Haiti. During the first week of the program, the support staff received trainings on how to properly conduct household surveys. These household surveys are administered to farmers which will allow the agriculture team to better assess which crops are grown locally; yields local growers are achieving per acre; as well as how much income farmers are earning through the sale of their products. Time was spent reading through the surveys to make sure that staff members understood what metrics are being assessed and also allowed staff time to ask questions about the project’s aims. Staff members were also trained on how to make respondents feel more comfortable divulging personal information while representing MFK in a professional manner.  Moreover, the agriculture team conducted mock interviews to observe staff member’s  techniques and made suggestions on how they could improve their interview skills. Staff members were asked to imagine what it would be like to be asked this information by someone that they do not know very well. How would they respond? Would they be honest? Why or why not?  In addition, staff members were asked what could be done to make them feel more comfortable while being asked these questions? Staff members had time to discuss ideas as a group and debate the merits of each idea.

On September 5th support members were taken to villages where they were introduced to the farmer cooperatives that they would be working with, and were assigned stakeholders to interview. Over a week and a half, each of the six agronomists conducted 15 surveys. The data from the surveys were entered into a data analysis tool in Microsoft Excel, which the agriculture team will use as a guideline to determine which intervention will benefit our farmers.

Through the implementation of the CTA survey we will be better able to assess what crops are being grown locally, yields local growers are achieving per acre, and how much income our farmers are earning through the sale of their products. It is imperative that MFK and the agriculture team must first understand the needs of our communities before we can make any substantial impact enhancements to them.

During the coming weeks the agriculture team will work closely with the support staff to assess the data to understand the outcomes of the survey. The conclusions will be developed into an interim report and given to our counterpart organizations, CTA and University of Haiti, which will help us understand how the farmer’s income and nutrition would change if they used some of their land to plant new crops. The objectives for the CTA intervention are to boost crop yields, household incomes, and nutrition for Haitian farmers through crop diversity and best practices planting techniques. Through these projects our support staff members are developing critical thinking, monitoring and evaluation, and problem anticipation skills. These are the most fundamental skills that farmers will need to develop in order to thrive in their farm development.