Report 17. Assessment of hedgerow performances in the Haitian context
Rousseau, Pierre M.
Hunter, Arthur Gene
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DescriptionThe Haiti Agroforestry Research Project was a program to encourage Haitian farmers to plant fast growing trees as a cash crop. This project was part of an overall plan by USAID to curb the devastating erosion which was washing the top soil into the sea.
Hillside farming in Haiti is practiced primarily by small farmers, and measures must be taken to help them at least maintain or possibly improve their production capacity. The introduction of techniques, such as hedgerow farming is evaluated in terms of their impact on crop production and soil fertility and conservation. The overall project objective is to provide the farmer with a stable and reliable source of income, using agroforestry as a vehicle for increasing agricultural production through diversification of output, thus adding to the risk aversion, together with preserving the environment. Agroforestry is believed to provide a sustainable form of agriculture. In addition to conserving soil, hedgerows are shown to at least stabilize crop production. The added benefit from the hedgerows expands total agricultural output. As a result, hedgerow are shown to be a sellable agroforestry practice, well adapted for Haiti. Even very young hedgerows are shown to have a positive effect on yields. The lost space taken by the hedgerows is compensated by increased yields in another portion of that field. Yield increases, up to 50% above the average yield of the field have been observed in the portion of the field immediately above the hedgerow. The soils on the hillsides are very degraded and the potential is limited for achieving decent yields, but the mixed cropping that is traditionally practiced in Haiti can secure a diversified low output to the farmer. At the level of output that was observed, the mixed intercropping did not seem to affect the yields of any particular crop. In the soils in alluvial plains, crop yields are shown to almost double compared to their level on the hillsides. Intensification techniques should be introduces for these type of soil with higher potential. This would enable to remove some of the pressure from the hillside farms, that should be devoted for perennial agricultural or forest production. The dynamics of hedgerow development is an important aspect of hedgerow efficiency and will need to be addressed for a full understanding and perception on how this technology can be further improved and developed. Suggestions are also given for continuation of the research effort on hedgerow farming.The Creole version of the executive summary for this report is missing from the original document.
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