Harvesting the emergency crop of corn.


Last week, about 200 earthquake survivors carried home freshly harvested ears of corn to feed their families. Although not the typical corn harvesting season in Haiti, the devastating following the devastating earthquake demanded an emergency planting, which was organized in a collaboration between Zanmi Agrikol (ZA), Partners In Health’s agricultural project in Haiti, and local farming families in the Central Plateau.

After the earthquake destroyed much of Port-au-Prince, many survivors poured into the rural Central Plateau and Artibonite regions to find shelter, food, medical care, and safety. With so many displaced people, the ZA team knew that hunger would quickly become a major problem. So they initiated a project the expedite food production by planting an emergency crop of precocious (quick-growing) corn in fallow fields.

This particular species of corn isn’t typically used by ZA, as it doesn’t store well; but in this emergency situation, needing to store the corn is not an issue, said PIH Haiti Program Manager Ali Lutz. ZA fortunately had the precocious seeds on-hand as the project often tests various seed varieties to find out their unique properties and to see which ones are best suited to certain local microclimates

The first harvest of this crop yielded enough corn to fill about 200 large bags with roughly 50 ears each. These bags were distributed to families who had been displaced by the earthquake.

Three more fields will be ready for harvesting within the next 2 months.

In addition to the corn crop, ZA is also addressing the local post-earthquake food needs by hiring and training an additional 20 Ajan Agrikol (community agronomists) to help support the agricultural efforts of about 1,000 families. Read more about ZA’s post-earthquake programs.