SUPPORT TO AGRICULTURAL RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT (SARD) PROGRAM IN HAITI
For more information about the AREA project, please visit the website here.
The SARD project focuses heavily on building capacity in Haiti in order to make the agricultural innovation process on-going and resilient to change. Social science research is critical to this overall project approach. Overall the project aims to build capacity through demand driven, long term investment aimed at modernizing and fostering linkages among the institutions that serve the sector and increasing the efficacy of the individuals and programs that focus on agricultural research, education and extension. The project will build the capacity of public and private organizations to provide applied, results oriented agriculture research and extension that are inclusive of all farmers, regionally designed, promote gender equity, and appropriate for the Haitian context. The proposed project is a Haitian driven partnership of public and private actors involved in the agricultural sector, a consortium of three US land-grant institutions with a long history of work in Haiti, and Partners of the Americas, a NGO who is implementing the USAID-Nutrition Security Project in Haiti.
Personnel associated with the Center provide leadership for an on-site and Gainesville-based social science research team responsible for an on-site experiment that compares the efficacy of three models of technical assistance. The three models are all in use globally, not just in Haiti. The goal of the experiment is to assess which of the three models constitutes the best investment of scarce resources for agricultural research and extension in Haiti and to understand the role or farmer organizations in the process of technical assistance. Farmer organizations are typically involved directly or indirectly in outreach and extension in many, if not most nations.
The objectives of the AREA Extension Experiment project are to:
- Work with Haitian farmer associations to evaluate three commonly used extension models and test technological innovations
- Assess the interactions between extension models and farmer associations as predictors of farmers’ willingness to test innovations on their own farms, an intermediate step between learning about an innovation and actual adoption
- Assess the degree to which innovation attributes influence the interactions between the extension model and farmers’ willingness to test innovations on their own farms
- Determine whether the gender of the farmer and/or the gender composition of a farmer organization affects the efficacy of an extension model
In early 2017, we completed the experimental protocol, got approval from USAID to move forward, and secured IRB approval for all phases of the study (pre-implementation recruitment, implementation, and the final assessment of grower tests of proposed innovations on their own farms without subsidy or further encouragement after implementing the extension model. A Haitian postdoctoral fellow manages the experiment in Haiti in collaboration with a field manager who works with three agronomists (equivalent to extension agents), each of whom is responsible for implementing one of the three models. Farmer associations nominated representatives to participate directly with our staff (for example, as master farmers or as hosts of on-farm demonstrations in their local communities) and these representatives began to interact with our personnel in the second (October through December) annual planting season in the study area. We collected initial information about each farmer association was collected in 2017, which included direct observation of association functions (as part of a measure of functionality) and in-depth interviews with association representatives. This included pre-tests of interest in each of six innovations proposed by the project team for implementation. We began implementation of the experiment involving 30 farmer associations with memberships ranging from as few as 50 members to as many as 2,000. Implementation of each model started in September 2017 and will terminate in May of 2018.
In 2018 we will complete the final three steps in this experiment. (1) All of the innovations will be place in commercial input stores in the study region to make them directly available to farmers. Each store will maintain a record of purchases. (2) We will verify who purchased and tried innovations on their own farms without direct project assistance during the first (March – May) annual cropping cycle. This is the most critical outcome measure for the project. (3) We will complete two more steps in data collection. One is an assessment of members’ perceptions of the overall value and quality of the association to which they belong involving measures of trust, equality, perceived benefits, respect among members and functionality (timeliness, participation by members, dominance in the group. The other is a simple exit interview with a random sample of 30 farmers in each of the 30 participating associations to answer three questions. (1) Had they ever seen the proposed intervention outside the context of the experiment (which should NOT be the case)? (2) Did they hear about the innovation through their farmer association (which should be the case)? (3) Did they try the innovation themselves on their farms? Three FYCS and one plant pathology and one agricultural engineering graduate student will also complete research in summer 2018. The FYCS students’ research will build upon what we learn in the experiment.
TEAM MEMBERS FOR THE SOCIAL COMPONENT OF THE SARD PROJECT
Mickie Swisher (Overall Component Director)
Boaz Anglade (On-Site Director)
Rosalie Koenig (overall SARD Director)
Jean Ribert Francois (Graduate Student)
Nana Adu (Graduate Student)
Liliane Poincon (Graduate Student)