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Innovation boost for Haiti's yam farmers

The concept of ‘modern-day miniset yam growing’ might hardly set your world on fire, but for farmers in rural Haiti this process is transforming their world.

Yam Traditionally, farmers used a technique in which one yam planted = one yam harvested. By using this method, they had just enough to provide for their families – simple enough until the earthquake in January 2010 which resulted in tens of thousands of people fleeing to rural villages.

In the department of Nippes in the south of Haiti, an estimated 30,000 people arrived from Port-au-Prince after the earthquake devastated the capital city. Here they struggled to provide for their larger families, especially as this region is prone to hurricanes and cyclones.

Increasing yam production

But now, thanks to partner GRAMIR, things are on the up. They have trained 600 farmers in miniset yam techniques, which allows the number of yams produced to increase significantly.

They were taught a specific cutting method, which allowed them to cut one yam, plant it, and yield four or five yams in return.

Before, farmers would struggle to grow enough to feed their families and to sell in the local markets; but now this technique means their economic situation is much more stable.

The other aspect of the project is a control field, established to grow yams but to test their reactions to different conditions, such as a lack of watering, denying the plants fertiliser or manure, or not weeding the land.

Here they can work out what kinds of conditions yams can tolerate, and how much intervention they need to provide.

Optimistic farmers

The success of the project can be seen in the sheer excitement of the newly trained yam farmers.

Not only do they have the right knowledge for the cutting of the yams, but also for calculating the risks of under-watering or not weeding their crops.

Programme officer Lucia Mbofana says 'the farmers take such pride in showing us their yam fields. This project is clearly making a huge difference to them and their families here in Nippes.'

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