Diversify plant production with respect to sustainable development and gender equality.
Université Laval has its headquarters in Saint-Marc, located approximately 100 kilometres to the north of Haiti's capital city. The University is implementing a project focusing on agricultural development, economic progress, nutritional health and university education. This initiative has been made possible through support from the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development - Canada, in close collaboration with other Haitian and Canadian partners. The agriculture and nutrition association is the cornerstone of this project, benefiting a community of 16,000 people. It is called AKOSAA, an acronym derived from its Haitian Creole title.
There is no shortage of challenges related to agriculture and nutrition in Haiti. Difficult access to water for irrigating crops, the division of land, low mechanization levels and the existence of economic enclaves constitute some of the many obstacles facing agricultural progress. Malnutrition is rampant among women and children. Approximately 22% of children under the age of 5 suffer from chronic malnutrition, which affects their resistance to infections and their development.
The AKOSAA project focuses on the diversification of plant production, respect of the environment, promotion of gender equality, socioeconomic integration and good nutritional practice awareness. It seeks to create a lasting impact through capability enhancement.
In Saint-Marc, a team made up of twelve Haitian professionals and one Canadian volunteer supports communities in the fields of agronomy and cooperative action. It also provides support to health centres for screening, follow-up and the prevention of malnutrition. In addition, the team conducts training activities and university research in the fields of agronomy, agricultural economics and nutrition.
At Université Laval, all of the departments at the Faculty of Agriculture and Food Sciences contribute to this pluridisciplinary initiative. The faculties of Medicine, Business Administration, Arts and Sciences, as well as the Faculty of Forestry, Geography and Geomatics offer their expertise to improve food security in Haiti.
In Haiti, the AKOSAA project’s partners include Université Laval in Haiti, the CHIBAS Foundation, the Department of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Rural Development, the Department of Public Health and Population, and the national office for food security (Coordination nationale de la sécurité alimentaire). Finally, several Canadian institutions, including Université de Moncton, the Société de coopération pour le développement international (SOCODEVI) and the Centre de coopération internationale en santé et développement (CCISD) make key contributions to the project's activities.
Equipped with diverse and complementary skills, the AKOSAA project team proposes participative approaches founded on dialogue between subject matter experts. Innovations in agriculture, nutrition and cooperative action respect the local food and agricultural heritage and help enrich it. Producers in Haiti are learning to grow new varieties of beans, corn, cow peas and peanuts rich in nutrients. They are integrating their bio-fortified foods into their diet and are marketing them as well, contributing to the population’s food security and nutritional health.