On a typical day, most Haitians do not have access to fresh produce and the limited amount of fruits and vegetables that arrive at the urban markets provide only a small income for the rural farmers, who actually grow the crops. Over 93% of all food stocks, are imported to Haiti. This is due to numerous accounts mainly: highly subsidized imported produce that undercuts the ability for Haitian farmers to compete; the costs of conventional fertilizers and seeds; land tenureship security issues where farming is done on family scale plots; lack of access to markets because of infrastructure/roads being barely usable; erosion of fertile agronomic lands due to watershed degradation; lack of manageable water systems for irrigation; just to name a few…..
For 35 years, Group 73 has been the leading advocate of Haitian watershed management and agronomic self sufficiency. Their goal is to make aware to tall Haitians, governmental agencies and good intentioned ngo’s, the importance of the revitalization of Haitian watersheds and the watershed’s cyclic affect upon agronomic productivity and basic human needs such as potable water. The non-for-profit organization, with central offices in Port-au-Prince, is ever present on Advisory Boards of The United Nations Development Program (UNDP), as well as, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) whenever regional or national level watershed programs are considered. On more local levels the Group 73 organizes workshops and training courses on sustainable agro-forest, agricultural , pericultural, and dairy operations., through out Haiti.
A recent initiative from Group 73, is the design, construction and management of ‘organic greenhouse’ installations for rural Haitians. With the intent being: to educate farmers on the merits of ‘organic’ farming techniques; produce for local markets revenue generating crops; demonstrate appropriate water/irrigation methods; and assist with a collective marketing strategy that will provide more revenue back to the growers themselves. The size of the operations depends upon the availability of land and access to water, as well as, the intent of the farmer, whether for an extended family use or a commercial scale operations.
An example, Group 73 has collaborated with the ARN Foundation of Haiti (ARN) and built a 23,000 sq. ft. ‘certified organic’ green house at the ARN Digue Matheux/Arcahaie nursery. Workshops on ‘organic’ greenhouse practices are an ongoing monthly activity, where the strategy to place a greater emphasis upon local composing and vericulture practices foregoes the need of congenital and expensive fertilitizers and insecticides. Group 73 has been approached by several agronomic cooperatives, regional hotels and missions to install further greenhouses, to service their own needs and to generate additional incomes. Produce, for local markets will be managed by Group 73, so as to provide the least amount of handling and most profit for the growers/farmers.