Haitian farmers, who otherwise may not have had sufficient seeds to plant this season in their earthquake-ravaged country, are receiving help from a public and private partnership to provide access to high-quality, conventional hybrid corn and vegetable seeds in time for this planting season.
The Haitian Ministry of Agriculture approved a donation from U.S.-based Monsanto Co. to Haitian farmers of $4 million worth of conventional hybrid corn and vegetable seeds to be made over the next 12 months in support of reconstruction efforts. The Ministry’s involvement ensured the seed selected was appropriate for the growing conditions and farming practices in Haiti. The donated seeds include corn, cabbage, carrot, eggplant, melon, onion, tomato, spinach and watermelon.
The first shipment of more than 60 tons of conventional hybrid corn and vegetable seeds arrived in Haiti via air- and seaport last week through donated shipping, logistic and distribution services provided by Kuehne + Nagel and UPS.
The initial seed shipment will be distributed to Haitian farmers by the WINNER project, a five-year program to increase farmer productivity funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). WINNER will provide the in-country expertise, technical services and other inputs, such as fertilizer, needed by farmers to manage the crops.
"Our goal is to reach 10,000 farmers this growing season with these seeds," said Jean Robert Estime, the director of the WINNER project. "The vegetables and grain these seeds will produce will help feed and provide economic opportunities for farmers, their families and the broader community. Agriculture is key to the long-term recovery."
The seeds are being provided free of charge by Monsanto. The WINNER project will distribute the seeds through farmer association stores to be sold at a significantly reduced price. The farmer stores will use the revenue to reinvest in other inputs to support farmers in the future. The farmer associations alone will receive revenue from the sales.
Haiti’s prime planting season occurs from mid-March through the end of May, and accounts for 60% of the country’s agricultural production. According to the World Bank, nearly 2.4 million Haitians are still food-insecure following the January earthquake, and farming and agriculture will be critical to a long-term, sustainable recovery.
"As a company wholly-focused on agriculture, we understand the importance of supporting local farmers and the Ministry of Agriculture’s efforts to help with reconstruction in their country," said Jerry Steiner, executive vice president, Monsanto Company. "With high quality seeds, agronomic support and training, Haitian farmers will be able to grow nutritious and diversified foods for their families, communities and their economy."
A second shipment of 70 tons of hybrid, conventional corn seed, also donated by Monsanto, is en-route. Further donation and distribution of up to an additional 345 tons of conventional hybrid corn seed is anticipated over the next 12 months.
The Monsanto Fund – the philanthropic arm of Monsanto – previously donated $50,000 to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund and has initiated a global program to match employee donations dollar-for-dollar. To date, Monsanto employees have contributed more than $100,000 to the program, raising a total of more than $200,000 for Haiti relief.
Source: Monsanto Co.