Creating Fertile Ground for Growth in Haiti

In 2009, the Open Society Scholarship Programs awarded EARTH University a grant to support promising undergraduate scholars from Haiti and Mozambique.  The following post is part of our blog series featuring their voices.

Carina Théodore: I grew up in a suburb of Port-au-Prince and my grandmother lives in a distant village where she owns land. As a child, I would stay with her from time to time. I saw how her fields produced sugar, avocado, mango, yams, bananas, and plantains. This is how I became interested in different ways of producing food.

Even before I came to EARTH, I knew the villagers in Haiti were not utilizing the resources at hand for producing food. In Haiti they use only charcoal as a source of cooking food, and for this reason, they cut down all the trees. There is no culture of respect for nature. Whatever government laws and regulations exist are routinely ignored.

I am studying agriculture because I want to help my people become aware that they can get higher productivity and reduce poverty. In Haiti, the land is depleted. There are enough local ingredients for natural fertilizer, but the villagers are not exploiting them. I had to come here to learn how to take advantage of the things they have to enrich the soil. Right now, the farmers do not use animal manure. I also learned about preserving natural resources and waste classification and recycling. I will go back and train my grandmother. She can train the rest of the farmers in her village.

There is no comparison between the environment in Haiti and the surroundings here at EARTH. The soil is the same hue, but here the vegetation is full of color, and even the green is different.  I miss Haiti a great deal. It is my country. It is my land. It is my home. I have been here only a year, and I don’t think I will ever change my life’s narrative for this new place. For me, everything is in my country.

After I graduate, I want to continue studying. But eventually I want to work in Haiti’s mango industry. I would like to establish my own company producing mangoes. The local market does not supply all the demand. I want to produce the mango and extract the pulp. It is a good idea to export it.

 As told to Chuck Sudetic.

1 Comment

I would have to agree with Carina on the vast differences in the agricultural environment in Haiti and at EARTH. Some of it has to do with how Agronomy is taught at the universities and the lack of engagement between the schools and the farmers/local communities. In Haiti, there is also the issue of access to financial resources that would develop agricultural education. Although the situation is somewhat dire, after a recent trip to Haiti in October, there are organizations working with farmers and local cooperatives on developing better farming practices. Hopefully Carina can be a part of that movement in the future.

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