Assessing the security of seed systems in Haiti

29/07/2010For years, and especially after the 12 January Earthquake, many institutions have implemented seed relief interventions in Haiti. FAO has participated in June 2010 in the implementation of a Seed System Security Assessment in order to better target future seed interventions.

The  Seed System Security Assessment (SSSA) is a methodological tool based on the concept of the seed security framework. The objective is to describe in details the functioning of seed systems and to determine the situation of seed availability, seed access and seed quality. The SSSA has been coordinated by the International Center for Tropical Agriculture (CIAT) and implemented by 7 partners (FAO, CRS, World Vision, World Concern, Ministry of Agriculture, CIAT and ACDI VOCA) in 10 sites covering the main regions of the country. The assessment is based on different type of interviews, in total 983 questionnaires with individual farmers were completed, 37 focus groups meetings were organized, and many key informant interviews were carried out.

Main conclusions of the assessment
  • Formal seed systems are almost nonexistent in the country except for rice in the Artibonite region. Farmers mainly rely on local markets to find the seed/grain they need to plant their crop. As compared to other traditional agricultural systems, farmer saved seed and social networks have a limited importance. The reliance on markets for seed supply make Haitian farmers particularly susceptible to crisis.
  • Farmers have had very limited access to improved varieties in last 5/10 years. Very little development programs have been implemented to provide access to farmers to new varieties.
  • The main impact of the earthquake on agriculture has been provoked by the massive displacement of people from Port au Prince in the rural areas that has provoked a huge pressure on the limited resources of farmers. The Earthquake has also strongly disrupted market functioning which has had a strong impact on farmers’ revenues.
  • About half of the farmers have used less seed during the first cropping season than they usually do and in total have used in quantity 16% less. This is mainly due to the lack of financial resources of farmers to procure the seed they needed. This problem might continue for a number of seasons due to the financial situation of Haitian farmers. The assessment didn’t identify any problem of seed availability.
  • Seed aid received by farmers has almost always been planted which mean that seed aid was a very useful activity. However issues related to the timing of distribution and the quality of seed distributed strongly came out of the assessment.

Main recommendations of the assessment:
  • Future seed interventions should be better targeted on the seed security problems of farmers. In order to address the seed access problems experienced by Haitian farmers, the use of seed fairs and vouchers should be wider developed. When seed distributions are needed, methodologies should be improved, especially by strengthening technical assistance to farmers and monitoring and evaluation.
  • Efforts to develop a sustainable seed production capacity in Haiti should be intensified.
  • Concerted efforts between partners, under the coordination of the ministry of agriculture, should be implemented in order to introduce and diffuse improved varieties in the agricultural sector.

For further reading on how to improve emergency seed relief activities and on the SSSA methodology please explore the following links:

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