St. Michel Agricultural and Rural Development Project
.. situated in the mountainous region of Lalomas Saint Michel, North Haiti.
Over the last three years, we have been assisting the people in the Region of Lalomas, with a population of approximately 30,000 who were /are desperately looking for assistance to obtain access to water and for help with agricultural projects.
During this time we completed the following -
1. Water well - drilled a well for much needed drinking water,
2. Community Centre - put on a roof on a community building to serve as a meeting place for our activities,
3. Community Development committee - We helped the community organize a local working development committee comprised of different interest groups,
4. Land for the community project - We secured a piece of land for the execution of the project .. made available free of charge by the “Mission Evangelique de Haiti du North”
5. Building construction - We constructed a facility for the workers involved with providing leadership for the Project.
Saint Michel Agricultural Project Progress Report August 2022
On July 30 I arrived in Haiti ready to go to work. Like so often I was ready, but Haiti was not ready for me. The pickup truck was in desperate need of repair and long overdue service. Through some friends I was able to find a mechanic who was skilled enough to do the work. It became apparent, that to accomplish any of my goals I could not wait for the repairs to get done. There was once again a severe gas shortage and I went to our station in Lalomas Saint Michel by bush taxi. Once there we were able to get around on our motor bike (3 to 4 people at a time on the bike) to do our work. Water Harvesting. We visited all the dams that had been built the time before. Some did very well, others were soon filled with debres that came down during one severe thunder storm and some dams had been damaged. Since we did not have a Pickup truck to build more, we encouraged the people to do their part and clean the ponds out before we would do more for them. In one village we helped the people in deepening an existing well by about 4 feet which had run dry. Reforestation. I had brought with me 30 lbs of Black Locust ( robonia, pseudo accatia ) In the first week at the station we had 3 rains which together gave us enough moisture to plant the seed. Before planting we soaked the seed in hot water over night to speed up the germination. It was good for me to be with them for two days of planting. Direct seeding has many big advantages versus starting them in a nursery and transplanting later. It is much less expensive and a lot more can be planted in one day. A team of 10 planters has the potential of starting 50 thousand trees in one day, with the proper timing. Treated seed can germinate in 2 to 3 days and once the seedling has put down its root, it is good to go. After the two days of planting, we had a chance to visit the planting sites from back in May. Some had excellent results with the vast majority having taken root. Others almost nothing came up. It soon became very clear that the timing is of upmost importance. We decided to plant only on the first day after a good rain to make sure the seed will take. We visited a lot of churches in the area in the hope of recruiting planting teams. The pastors of the churches were encouraged to preach to the people about our responsibility to take care of God’s creation. Up to now we have 7 Churches and 7 individual groups participating in Reforestation and in agricultural training. The local radio station is now broadcasting a message about the benefit of planting trees and the devastating effect of cutting trees without planting again. We are working on developing a curriculum for interested schools to teach about the impotence of planting trees and make it part of required subjects. We hope to supply each Student after taking the course, with a small package of Black Locust seed which they will be able to take home and plant around their homes and on their farms The message is spreading and the interest growing. Beekeeping. Our Agronomist Vonel has taken a course in Beekeeping. He has two hives started and two more ready to go. We need now a facility to build the commercial beehive boxes and purchase some equipment to extract the honey. We are looking on purchasing two 40 foot shipping containers to set them up as welding shop and carpentry shop and more. Student support and Orphan support. We currently have 3 Students in University or College. ( one second year Medical, one first year Nursing and one for Lab technician). Two are applying for this fall, one for Medical and one in administration and both are currently taking a preparatory course. All the students we support in their higher education are bright students who are orphans or from families that could never afford university or college tuition One student, an orphan is still in high school and 4 more will be added in September (3 of them in first grade are between 7 and 10 years old). They are children of a widow who last her husband when the forth child was only a few days old. Markus Frei, Saint Michel Agricultural Project
During the last five years that we have been working in the mountain range of Lalomas in Saint Michel, the trees have been slowly disappearing, due to over harvesting, and it has rained less and less. Rain clouds release their moisture as it travels over cooler tree covered areas, causing it to rain. However, as soon as the clouds cross over deforested areas, the warm dry air causes the rain to stop.
The water shortages have now become critical and the land can scarcely support the population in the region of about 30,000 people. The older people in the region remember very well the time when the mountains were covered with trees and the rains were plentiful. Pictures taken 15 years ago, compared with those taken recently, reveal a shocking contrast from lush green mountains to a deforested dry landscape.
Unless we are able to stop this trend of deforestation, causing less rainfall and severe drought conditions, the people in the area will be forced to leave due to adequate rainfall to support their agrarian livelihood.
Last year we did an assessment on the severe drought conditions in the area to identify possible ways to remedy the extreme water shortage. From the top of the mountain, we could see that the far side of the mountain range had a gentle slope with beautiful crops almost right to the top of the mountain. However, the Saint Michel side of the mountain was dry and bare due to the trees being over harvested over time for cooking fuel. During our assessment, we met a family working all day harvesting the few beans that survived in the drought, providing food for the family for perhaps one or two weeks.
Our reforestation plan -
1. Reforestation plan - with your help, we will plant 100,000 drought tolerant trees each year at an annual cost of Cdn$10,000. The funds will be used for both planting and tree maintenance.
2. Education & awareness plan - we will hold meetings throughout the region and work with two local radio station to educate the people on the importance of tree conservation and reforestation. The local community officials are fully on board, as they recognize the importance of reforestation and the consequences for ignoring the problem.
3. Our reforestation goal - plant one million trees at a cost of $100,000. There is no labour shortage to accomplish this goal. It is only a matter of available funding. Will you help ?
4. Our mission - To bring help and hope to the 30,000 people in the Lalomas mountain region of St Michel. Our goal is to provide a hand-up to people to help improve their livelihoods. We do not give hand-outs, as this creates dependency.
Please consider how you can help: Reforestation funding suggestions
1. $50 .. plants 500 trees
2. $100 .. plants 1000 trees
3. $500 .. plants 5,000 trees
4. $1,000 ..plants 10,000 trees
Our previously drilled well was not close enough to our project which meant we had to drill a second well for our station to benefit the neighbouring families as well. For the purpose of irrigation we hope to build over the next 5 years a number of small dams, the work to be carried out by the people benefiting from it and the materiel supplied by the project.
. We are planing to build shops for the different trades we hope to introduce. For the welding shop we have someone in training.
. To add value to there produce we intend on setting up as a cooperative a flour mill and a dehydration and fruit juice bottling facility to better utilize their produce in and out of season.
The land that has been made available to us by the Evangelical Mission of North Haiti will be divided in to parcels representing the different segments in farming like vegetable gardening field crop production, animal husbandry and forestry management.
The mountain range of Lalomas Saint Michel and beyond has been hit hard with severe drought. The hills are totally bare, the forest which used to attract the rains are gone. We will be distributing forestry tree seeds and sell fruit tree seedlings in an effort to bring the forests back.
1) Seed of leguminous forestry trees will be distributed. After two years, for every tree that has survived we will pay an incentive $2.00. This will be less expensive and might give us better results then distributing the seedlings.
2) Fruit tree seedlings from our tree nursery will be made available for them to purchase. As people see the financial benefit by supplying us with fruit for the planned fruit juice bottling facility, we anticipate a growing interest. We sell them because whatever is bought by them has more value to them then something given.
Some of the forestry trees that will be introduced will attract honey bees. We had purchased a commercial beehive which will be fabricated at our woodworking shop once up and running. A family will be able to make a living on two to three commercial bee hives and it could open up the possibility for a number of cottage industries.
Orphanages are most often poorly run. We encourage families in the Churches and in the community to take care of the orphans and we would help with their education and closing – to help them become self sustaining – through programs like
1. A welding shop.
2. A grocery store
3. A small sewing / tailoring business
foundation, floor, block construction and roof 20 bags of cement $ 200.00
160x 6 inch blocks $ 160.00
sand and stone $ 150.00
labourers $ 100.00
total $ 610.00
Water tank $ 1,000.00
Submersible pump $ 1,500.00
3 shop row building with apartments for shop- managers on top
foundation and concrete roof 150 bags of cement $ 1,500.00
re-bar $ 2,000.00
1800x 6 inch concrete blocks for shop $ 1,800.00
sand and stone $ 1,500.00
2000 6 inch blocks for appartement $ 2,000.00
40 bags of cement and Sand $ 600.00
labourers $ 2,000.00
Steel-roof $ 1,500.00
12 Solar Panels @ $ 220.00 each $ 2,640.00
12 6V deep-cell batteries @ $ 245.00 each $ 2,940.00
400W inverter $ 1000.00
Electrical supplies $ 1,000.00
Generator for welding shop plus some tools $ 1,000.00
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