Haiti: Sharing knowledge across the border with the Dominican Republic

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Haiti: Sharing knowledge across the border with the Dominican Republic

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©IFAD/David F. Paqui

Haiti - Food Crops Intensification Project - Phase II

The border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic is a poor region, but it is critically important to both countries. On the Haitian side, in particular, there is substantial yet unexploited economic potential.

To address this issue, an IFAD grant financed a programme for sharing knowledge on food security and income-generating practices in the border areas. The goal was to improve livelihoods, food security and access to markets for poor rural Haitian families – especially women heads of household and young peoples – who reside in the borderlands.

The programme aimed to achieve its target by expanding these families' access to knowledge and information that is available to small-scale Dominican producers and their associations, including best practices in farm production, product conservation and rural transformation.

Learning routes

The effort began by identifying the Haitian border households' needs and demands for information, technical assistance and training. It then mapped existing innovations and good practices of Dominican and Haitian producers that were pertinent and replicable.

After that, the programme developed spaces for sharing, learning and exchanging experiences among farmers to facilitate the adoption of the innovations and good practices. To do so, it used a well-established local knowledge-management and capacity-building methodology known as a 'learning route'.

Learning routes are a tool that promotes innovative activities, technologies and approaches, which can be applied to eradicate rural poverty. They enable lesson learning, efficient dissemination of information, and the scaling up of the best, field-tested innovations in rural development across regions.

Tailor-made to each community of learners and thematically structured around specific learning objectives, learning routes promote experiential exchange and interaction, with local people acting as trainers for their peers.

Results and achievements

The Dominican Republic office of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations was selected to manage the grant for the knowledge-sharing programme. Two coordinators, one per country, oversaw grant implementation, while the PROCASUR Regional Corporation was contracted to carry out the most important field activities.

These included the selection of potential beneficiaries, identification of best practices, implementation of learning routes and training of farmers. PROCASUR was supported by two local farmers' organizations, Junta de Asociaciones Campesinas Rafael Fernández Domínguez in the Dominican Republic and Union de Jeunes pour l'Avancement du Nord'Est in Haiti.

The programme made significant progress in reaching its initial objectives. Specifically, it identified good and innovative practices on organic agriculture for use in the learning routes; financed 30 innovation plans and sponsored 30 associated internships; and certified 120 rural people, half of them women and youth, in relevant techniques.

In addition, the use of learning routes can be considered an innovation in itself. In the Dominican Republic, the Ministry of Agriculture has expressed interest in adopting them as part of the methodology used by its extension service. Furthermore, there are plans to apply the methodology to other initiatives in the Dominican Republic and to scale up the results in a broader second phase initiative involving other Caribbean countries.