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MSU to Use Nearly $2M USAID Grant to Help Feed Haiti

Hurricane Matthew roared through the Caribbean before moving north to the southeastern United States in October 2016, leaving a path of devastation.

Haiti’s southwest region, which has a strong history of bean production, was hit particularly hard. Michigan State University secured a nearly $2 million award from the United States Agency for International Development’s Mission to Haiti to help re-establish the region’s agricultural production capacities to sustainably produce beans for household food and nutritional security in the future.

Through this hurricane relief initiative, entitled “Mwen Gen Pwa” (Haitian Creole for “I have beans”), the Feed the Future Legume Innovation Lab at MSU and its partners will coordinate a multi-season distribution of improved high-yielding bean varieties to the region’s smallholder farmers.

“Beans are a critical element of the diet in Haiti, so the U.S. Feed the Future initiative is supporting Hurricane Matthew recovery by funding the distribution of high-quality bean seed, allowing farmers in the south and southwest to produce food and income,” said Dr. Michael Wyzan, USAID Mission to Haiti.

Speedy procurement and delivery of seed were critical for the success of the project. In late 2016, improved varieties of black bean seed were purchased by MSU, packaged and shipped to Port-au-Prince.

“The Feed the Future Legume Innovation Lab’s extensive network of seed producers and collaborators in Central America, the Caribbean and the U.S. ensured that the required quantities of bean seed would come from reputable seed producers,” said Luis Flores, project coordinator at MSU. “Since the hurricane-affected region has multiple planting seasons, the first distribution of seed will begin in January and continue through August 2017.”

The Inter-American Institute for Cooperation in Agriculture is partnering with MSU to coordinate in-country project activities. Local government officials and NGOs in communities are assisting with the identification of beneficiary farmers and distribution.

“The goal is to provide enough quality seed to a minimum of 6,000 smallholder farmers,” Flores said.

Educational booklets and videos on the improved varieties and bean crop management also will be made available to the farmers.

USAID contacted MSU for this project because of its expertise in common bean varieties adapted to Central America and the Caribbean, its long-term engagement with the National Seed Service in Haiti and its extensive experience with bean seed distribution in Haiti through another USAID funded project at MSU, the Bean Technology Dissemination Project. BTD addressed a shortage of bean seed in the region by distributing high-quality seed of 39 different improved bean seed varieties to more than 120,000 resource-poor farmers in Haiti, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

For more details of the Mwen Gen Pwa project or information on bean research, visit http://legumelab.msu.edu/.

– Layne Cameron, Luis Flores, Marguerite Halversen via MSU Today

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