Training the Future of Haitian Agriculture
Though agriculture still represents one of the main drivers of the Haitian economy, quality agricultural training is hard to come by and practical exposure to quality agricultural research is even less common. Working with upper-year students and recent graduates provides the MFK Agriculture team with much needed assistance and also offers these young people a chance to develop their many skills.
Our agronomist, Jean-Philippe Dorzin, is working with our second group of students from the Université Roi Henri Christophe (URHC), a private university in Cap-Haitian. These agronomy students are undertaking their final year thesis project and are being guided and supported by MFK Agriculture staff. Having prior teaching experience, Dorzin is an excellent ‘supervisor’ to these students who often have trouble finding assistance from their faculty, who are simply overburdened. Dorzin worked with these students to plan their research question and design the trial. He now continues to work with them on implementing various agricultural research best practices on their two research trial plots. Not only are the students learning more about agricultural research, but they are also developing many other skills under Dorzin’s supervision, such as fungicide/pesticide application and disease evaluation. Students are also developing other important non-agronomy-related skills, professionalism being on the top of the list.
These kinds of work experiences are never smooth and we have encountered our share of issues. However, with the cooperation of a phenomenal administration over at URHC, we have been able to greatly improve the experience of the students for this second run. What has really made a big difference is the integration of this experience into the wider ‘practicum’ program that is being promoted by the university this year. This well-planned and supervised ‘practicum’ offer students the chance to gain valuable practical experience in their chosen field, through collaborations with several local partners (hospitals, businesses, and NGOs).
In addition to this collaboration with URHC, we also have a student Research Assistant working with us. Rick is in his final year of Agronomy studies at the Université Chrétien du Nord d’Haïti. Along with his native language, Creole, Rick also speaks fluent French and English. He is ambitious, dedicated and eager to learn. This internship with MFK is allowing him to gain valuable experience working with an international NGO and collaborating with agriculture experts from universities around the world.
Not only do we see these student-training experiences as beneficial to wider Haitian agriculture, but also as a potential investment into the future of MFK’s Agriculture team. Providing practical experience and engaged supervision to these budding agronomists allows them to further develop their skills and become the experts so needed by this country’s agricultural sector.
If you, too, feel passionately about training Haiti’s future agriculture professionals, please consider donating to MFK. These donations allow us to provide a small stipend, as well as transport and food costs to our interns.
Pictured above: MFK agronomist, Dorzin, and MFK Ag Programs Coordinator, Dominique.