From MFK Agricultural Fellow Alex Carroll:
The MFK agriculture team has recently started a new season of extension trainings with peanut farmer groups in Ouanaminthe, Haiti. With the launching of new extension programs, the agriculture team felt it was important to meet with the outgoing farmer groups one last time to formally conclude the program. And so on February 12, the team held a graduation ceremony for the farmers in the Fall 2016 extension groups to test their knowledge of the topics discussed and thank them for their participation in the training programs.
The Fall 2016 extension groups were in Gens de Nantes and Savane au Lait, and the graduation activity was held at a community center in Savane Longue that was provided to MFK free of charge for the evening. (Savane Longue is located between Gens de Nantes and Savane au Lait. MFK is also adding an extension program in Savane Longue this spring.) Chairs were provided by the École Nationale de Savane Longue (National School of Savane Longue). In addition, excellent food was provided by Millénium Restaurant in Ouanaminthe city. Most of the sixty farmers from Gens de Nantes (30) and Savane au Lait (30) were in attendance. The afternoon began with a formal recognition of the hard work and sacrifices made by the community leaders in selecting farmer participants and organizing trainings, meals, and other activities. This was followed by a final review of the topics covered during the season, which consisted of the MFK agriculture team asking the group members questions about land preparation, planting, soil conservation, disease management, soil fertility, maturity testing, harvesting, and post-harvest aflatoxin control, among other topics. The farmers did very well in responding to all of these questions, showing a high level of retention of the materials we covered during the training program.
Several farmers and group leaders explained how they had changed their agricultural techniques and practices based on the information they learned both in the classroom setting and in the field school trainings throughout the extension program. Examples included drying peanuts on concrete or tarps instead of on the ground, composting leftover crop and plant residues instead of burning the land before replanting, and planting in rows instead of scatter planting. The MFK team also encouraged participants to contact Acceso to inquire about their technical and input packages for peanut farmers, which will help the farmers put some of the principles we have taught them into practice. This was followed by presentation of certificates to each participant and dinner.
The activity was a great way to close the extension training program for this group of sixty farmers. We have high hopes that the farmers will work with Acceso or on their own to continue implementing the techniques we covered with them.