PMIL-MFK Training for Haitian Agronomists
An agriculture program update from MFK Agriculture Fellow Alex Carroll (1/2):
One of the Meds & Food for Kids Agriculture team’s closest partners is the Feed the Future Innovation Lab for Collaborative Research on Peanut Productivity & Mycotoxin Control (PMIL), one of the many Innovation Labs supported by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID). The PMIL team consists of researchers from top U.S. universities working with other research scientists and organizations in Ghana, Haiti, Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia, with a goal of improving peanut production and use, raising nutrition awareness, and increasing food safety in developing countries. MFK was pleased to host a visiting team from PMIL during the month of June. The team consisted of Dr. Barry Tillman and Dr. Greg MacDonald from the University of Florida, Dr. Robert Kemerait from the University of Georgia, and Abraham Fulmer, a PhD student at the University of Georgia. During their visit, the PMIL research team assisted MFK with plant disease evaluations and other research-related tasks in both Quartier-Morin and Mirebalais, Haiti. One of the highlights of the visit, however, was a day-long training session for Haitian research agronomists working with peanuts, held on June 20th.
Approximately thirty-three Haitian agronomists from several partner organizations attended the training session, including personnel from Premier Steppe Ferme, Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation, iF Foundation, CHIBAS, Université Roi Henri Christophe, Université Chrétienne du Nord d’Haïti, and the Bureau Agricole Communal of Cap-Haïtien (the local government agriculture bureau). Some participants came from as far as Port-au-Prince and spent two nights away from home to attend the training. The training started with a description of PMIL and its role in Haiti given by Dr. MacDonald, who next presented on best practices in Haitian peanut agriculture, especially in relation to weed control. This was followed by a presentation from Abraham Fulmer, who discussed the Haiti PMIL research projects in 2016 and presented on proper experimental design for peanut research.
Next, Dr. Tillman presented on proper techniques for peanut breeding and seed multiplication. This was followed by a presentation from Dr. Kemerait on peanut plant pathology, including methods for identifying late leaf spot, peanut rust, Tomato Spotted Wilt Virus, and Tomato Chlorotic Spot Virus, all of which are diseases or viruses affecting peanut plants in Haiti. He also discussed prevention and mitigation strategies for reducing plant disease and increasing yields in regards to both research and smallholder peanut cultivation in Haiti. Participants were very attentive and asked many thought-provoking questions throughout the presentations.
(To be continued next week)