CTA Program Final Update: From Chicken Cages to Community Gardens

From MFK Agriculture Research and Extension Program Specialist, Ben Wiseman

Farmers in Haiti must grow more than just peanuts.  This was the premise for MFK’s recent project to expand capacity for backyard and community egg production and vegetable gardening in three peanut-producing communities in northeastern Haiti.  While peanut-growing provides an economic foundation for many farmers in the region, supplementary farming activities like egg and vegetable production help farmers maintain cash flow and feed their families during the off-season.   MFK’s chicken raising and vegetable garden project was conducted in partnership with the Technical Center for Agricultural and Rural Cooperation (CTA), an international institution promoting food and nutrition security.

Final evaluation of the project showed impressive growth in farming diversity among participants.  At the program’s beginning, 14 of the 90 participants raised chickens for eggs, each producing an average of 11 eggs for sale each week.  After participating in MFK’s capacity-building, all 90 of the participants raised chickens for eggs, each producing an average of 31 eggs for sale per week, not including those eggs they fed their family.  Additionally, those same 90 participants increased diversity of the crops they grew from 2.7 crops on average, to 3.8 crops on average.  Many participants decided to add a vegetable such as tomatoes or peppers to their crop production.  The increase in vegetable and egg production is boosting the participant’s income and ability to feed their families.

The success of the project caught the attention of national and local audiences.  This February in Port-au-Prince, MFK agronomist Elizé Leandre presented the project’s outcomes at a roundtable where over 50 academics, business people and organization representatives gathered to disseminate information on implementation of food security initiatives.  Initiatives included projects promoting food production at the school, community, and household level.

Additionally this March, MFK’s agriculture team featured the chicken raising and vegetable garden project on a tour of agriculture projects in northern Haiti for officials from the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture and private agricultural organizations   The MFK Agriculture team explained the success of our CTA project in building capacity for local peanut producers to begin vegetable and egg production. We were delighted to showcase the hard work of farmers in our partner communities, while sharing important learning points from the project implementation and evaluation.

Peanut harvest will not start until June for peanut farmers in northern Haiti, but the participants in our program have a little less to worry about with a steady supply of eggs coming from their household chicken coops and vegetables in their backyard gardens.