USAID has high hopes the Rural Center for Sustainable Development (CRDD) will one day become the flagship soils analysis research and extension facility for the Haitian Ministry of Agriculture.
A group of USAID and Center for Disease Control (CDC) officials, including the Agency’s Global Water Coordinator Christian Holmes, recently visited the CRDD agriculture extension and research center. The CRDD is funded by USAID through the Feed the Future West/Watershed Initiative for National Natural Environmental Resources (Winner) program and is located in Bas Boen in Haiti’s Cul-de-Sac development corridor, part of the plain that extends east to the Dominican Republic.
The visiting officials found it to be a very impressive facility, with important trials underway there. One successful effort has expanded maize plantings from 25,000 plantings per hectare to 100,000 plantings, a 400 percent increase. Farmers shifted from the traditional practice of growing maize within a flooded square berm to growing maize on berm rows, with the seed planted just below the top of the raised bank. This method used the same amount of water, if not less, for 100,000 plantings as was previously used for 25,000.
Already the CRDD is a national catchment lab, analyzing 100 samples each month from across the country, according to CRDD Director Dr. Cadet. The lab also conducts soil analysis on contract to various organizations, including a contract for 1,200 samples for Oxfam.
The center has significant capacity-building value as well, training over 800 master farmers who now provide agricultural extension services throughout the Feed the Future West/WINNER catchment area. CRDD covers about 50 percent of its operating costs through variety of means, including: the sale of soil and plant analysis services; soil preparation before planting; and the sale of some products grown on its 4.5-hectare grounds.
The facility also has its own 900 KW diesel generator, which provides back up and supplementary power to 19 water pumping stations serving the Cul-de-Sac irrigated perimeter in association with the Feed the Future West/WINNER program.