PCRSP Sets Up a Trial Plot

Tim Brenneman and David Jordan’s itinerary for their recent visit to Haiti through MFK’s partnership with the Peanut Collaborative Research and Support Program (PCRSP) seems to leave little room for error, let alone downtime. However, lacking the advanced techniques, machinery, and equipment that is prevalent in the United States, there is often no other option but to adjust to the unexpected. Each step is accompanied by a challenge, though rarely insurmountable. They’re quickly reminded of the differing rate at which success is achieved in Haiti’s agriculture sector compared to that of the United States. It wouldn’t be a typical morning if one of MFK’s two vehicles didn’t pose an issue or simply wasn’t working. This day, after loading the car with seed, seed treatment, tools for planting, and bags of miscellaneous items needed for a day of field work, the alternator malfunctioned. There was little confidence that the car would last through the day, a chance not worth taking when time is valuable and limited. After coming up with a plan of action for repair and switching vehicles, the team was on their way to lay a new trial plot which will test a variety of seed.

First, the seed must be treated by hand, a task accomplished by machinery in much less time in the United States. The treatment is applied to reduce the potential of fungi growth on peanuts, an important though not an easy feat in the tropics. Reducing fungi growth leads to increased yields, though to what degree remains uncertain when factors such as rainfall and rodents play into the picture. In an area where increased yields affects putting food on the table and sending children to school rather than profit margins, it is a step that cannot be ignored.  Meanwhile, David and James repair an oil leak in the newly acquired, but nowhere near shiny or new, tractor that makes it possible to plow twice as much land in half the amount of time than by hand. Techniques and technologies like this are so uncommon that within minutes two crowds have formed, one around Tim treating the seed and the other around David and James who repair the tractor and fill the machine with fuel, another comparatively difficult task. Only 10 feet from the tractor a man splits bamboo with a machete supplying the men with stakes to mark the varieties of seed planted in the trial plot. This is merely the preparation phase.MakeshiftGasStation.JPG        Bamboo stake marks the local variety.JPG

Above: They improvise a makeshift gas station and use bamboo stakes to mark the local varieties

Seven hours later, the field is freshly plowed, a new trial plot laid, peanuts planted, and relationships formed with members of the community, some of whom gathered to observe, others to work, and still more to provide hospitality to MFK’s PCRSP partners.