Plan to combat soil erosion low crop yield

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Kudos to Lionne & Claudy.

I just wanna add these words: Haiti Soil Erosion Stoppage and More Crop Yield Plan

Haiti's landscape is about 75% mountainous terrains and fairly rugged.

The climate alternates between a dry season and a raining season.

Ever since the days the first maroons took to the mountains Haiti has had peasants.

But I can't help myself notice that the Haitian peasants may have never conquered the mountains of Haiti to the fullest.

In other words, it appears as if the Haitian peasants were never able to make the mountains yield as much crop as it could.

I take for example my paternal grand-mother home rural mountain locality of La faitee, 6th rural section of Grand Goave, I believe.

Most of La faitee was uncultivated and barren when I used to go there in the late 1970's. The soil there seems to be volcanic broken rocks.

The environment was not totally deserted though; there were a couple of mango trees here and there and a little stream down below in the gorge.

However, grandma had other land that she called " terre jardin" (translation: arable land) about a good while away on foot or horseback from where she had her domicile in La Faitee.

She cultivated those lands to grow our exquisite Haitian blue coffee, millet, and maize.

Well, she was not the only one that owns land, off course.

The point that I am making is that very little of rural Grand Goave is cultivated and it is probably the case for the rest of Haiti's mountains ever since we have been an independent nation.

On the contrary, in East Asia, all of the mountains are covered with crop and vegetation and we have an idea how.

Almost all of us who care about Haiti have heard the devastation and despair brought about by deforestation and soil erosion.

I can't elaborate on such matter since I am not an expert in the environment but I can offer an educated opinion.

The Haitian peasants are not responsible for deforestation; the foreign-owned Haitian logging industry is responsible.

I do not believe the root of the problem of low crop to almost inexistent crop production in many parts of Haiti is due exclusively to deforestation and soil erosion.

I do believe, however, it is due to a lack of knowledge of commonly known practices to preserve top arable soil in mountainous areas.

Let me take for instance as an example of survivability the Incas of Peru who sustained life in the Peruvian mountains for decades without too many trees to hold back the soil. The fact that our Haitian peasants cut down the trees to produce charcoal does not mean automatically the arable soil should be washed away when it rains; what it means is that we need to teach our peasants a simple and easy way to preserve the top arable soil after they cut down the trees.

Let us face the reality that the Haitian peasants are not going to abandon charcoal making any time soon. Why?

Charcoal making is easy, requires very little first capital investments and even less manual labor, and to top it off yields an acceptable rate of return.

Reiterating the international belief that Haiti is essentially an agricultural nation and stating my own personal belief that a reforestation plan for Haiti just for the sake of reforesting Haiti's landscape is a utopia; and that the Haitian peasants is the backbone of Haiti, I offer the following plan.

This plan has four phases:

Build terraces in the mountains
Replenish terraces with new arable top soil
Devise an irrigation system
Grow subsistence crop at first

Build terraces in the mountains of Haiti:
The Incas of Peru were able to survive in the mountains because they learned to build terraces in the mountains in order to cultivate crop and feed themselves.

It is a simple but very effective idea of soil conservation.

The Incas used stones to retain and support their terraces on which they grew their crop. Well, let us spread the word; let us encourage our Haitian peasants to not only build terraces to preserve the soil and grow crop but also to plant fruit or vegetable trees to help retain the terraces instead of stones whenever possible.

The terraces being flat surfaces will be less susceptible to being washed away by rain drops to the ocean.

But what is more important in my opinion is the fact that the total cultivable land area in Haiti will dramatically increase.

More cultivable land should mean more crop yield.

Right! Well maybe! Need some help here from the useless agronomes of Haiti who keep turning into politicians instead of helping the peasants.

Replenish terraces with new arable top soil:
Yes, it is common knowledge that most of the arable top soil of Haiti has been washed away to the sea because of deforestation.

But keep in mind that the force of gravity played a key role as well; after all the mountains are slopes.

Let us break the slopes into terraces and replenish the terraces with arable soil. Simple isn't it?

Arable soil can still be found in acceptable quantity in different parts of Haiti.

For instance if anyone was to dig the soil in the mountainous region of Bombardopolis or Terrier Rouge, you would find that the whole mountain itself is arable land almost two meters deep. Some of that arable land can be transported and sold at very reasonable price to peasants, in other parts of Haiti, that need it to replenish their newly built terraces.

Most crop need no more than six inches deep arable soil to grow healthy.

As a plan B, Haiti can also import arable land from Mexico or Argentina.

Devise an irrigation system:
The question every one must be asking is: how do you irrigate way up in the mountains during the dry season?

Well, the Incas did it. And I mentioned earlier that there exist small streams and springs up in the mountain gorges.

Where there is a will there is a way.

Grow subsistence crop at first:
I am hoping that every reader can see by now that my objective is to increase the volume of crops and root crops that our Haitian peasants can produce.

I do not see a good future for Haiti unless we can achieve at least 50% self-sufficiency not only in food production but also in other areas of economic activities.

It deeply saddens me to hear that Haiti is importing avocadoes and orange peal marmalades from abroad.

In that regard, I would encourage an open discussion on what variety of subsistence crop would be most beneficial for Haiti in the near term. I personally have no knowledge in agronomy and I will not speculate on such matter.

I would suggest only one thing; whatever subsistence crop is recommended, the yield has to be more profitable for the Haitian peasants than charcoal making.

The economics always have to be valid.

In conclusion, I believe this is a plan where all Haitians and lovers of Haiti can come together and make a contribution.

Whether or not you are from the mountains of Haiti you can spread the word to every one you know, peasants as well as urbanites.

You can take the destiny of Haiti into your own hands by helping on your own terms and your own agenda to put a 'koumbite' together and build those terraces all over the mountains of Haiti.

I know I will sooner rather than later in Grand Goave.

I mostly refer to our peasants living in the mountains but I strongly encourage our urbanites to join in the effort to grow crop wherever they live, in their backyards and on the roof of their houses, especially on those concrete roofs.

Once again this plan is a framework; there is a lot more work to be done. I certainly did not address the issue of availability of seeds for the peasants, the irrigation issue in semi-arid regions of Haiti; well I guess this is a challenge for the Haitian Diaspora and anyone willing to help. Your help of any kind will be put to good use.

Welcome to the revolution.

Peace and Love
Long live Haiti

Rubens F. Titus, April 30 2008, 10:06 PM

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Messages in this topic

Terrace Agriculture The Dragon's Backbone Rice Terraces, Longji China Peru Agriculture - Part 1 Mountain Top Green Tea... read more >
Lionne, 1-May-08 2:47 am
I have often though about ways that Haiti can begin to prosper and your plan has crossed my mind before, albeit not as... read more >
Mj, 4-May-08 1:29 am
hi, thanks for your interest about Haiti's plight. I guess clever minds think alike. I can be reached at yldep at... read more >
Rubens F. Titus, 9-May-08 2:10 am


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