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Vegetables seed production in Haiti

Most seeds for vegetables in Haiti are imported, even the ones of plant varieties like tomatoes, eggplant, peppers etc, that can easily be multiplied in tropical countries. Often these are hybrid seeds, that are not well adapted for the conditions in Haiti. Even worse seeds often are of bad quality and it’s often not the variety you bought it as. Does anybody have experience with seed production in Haiti? It would also be great if I could get hold of some locally adapted and open pollinated seeds to start with. I have heard that MPP has some seed production for hot peppers.

Thanks for your help!

Simon

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Simon,

This is a great question Simon, thanks for posting! I don’t have any experience in Haiti but I know there are a lot of people in our network working in Haiti who could speak into this: Mark Hare, Sefra Alexandra, Ruth Portnoff, Cory Thede, Rosedanie Cadet, Rhoda Beutler, Brian Flanagan, Mike Mueller (from Hope Seeds), Sarah Delaney, and many more. Brian Flanagan mentioned the organization ORE is doing work with vegetable seeds.

ECHO offers open pollinated varieties of vegetable seeds suitable for the subtropics and tropics. But I agree that it’s always best to get local varieties that are adapted to the climate and valued by the culture. Would you be open to doing a variety trial with different varieties of a crop to see which ones do the best in your location?

This is from 2010 so it’s not current but it may be a good resource:

Members: We would love to have more input on Simon’s question if you have knowledge or experience of sources of local vegetable seed in Haiti!

Simon,

I agree with your sentiments.

I believe most of the veggies growing in my region (Mirebalais) are local varieties which do grow true from seeds. It is my wish to see some locals start a seed saving business and along those lines I’ve built an underground storage building. It is not up and running because the humidity level is too high and I’m adding some ventilation now, which I hope fixes that.

In the near future I hope to focus on veggies (currently I’m cultivating trees). When I do, I plan to use the seeds from the best quality veggies I can find on the local market. As you know, they will be best suited to the local environment.

I brought seeds from Hope Seeds for the first time a few weeks ago. I believe those will grow true from seed as well. So that may be another resource for you.

I’ve heard seeds are easy to find in Pap, but they may be hybrids as you mention. Maybe others here can offer more resources.

An NGO called Harvest 107 may have some ideas as well. They specialize in backyard gardens.

Please report back here when you find what you feel is a reliable local source. I’m interested to know. Maybe they can help with my seed saving program.

Take care,
Roger

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Check with the folks at Double Harvest, they are east of PAP about 15-20 clicks. I don’t know where they get seed or if non-hybrid, but they do grow a lot of vegetables.
Sorry I don’t have a current contact there, a Canadian based ministry.
https://www.doubleharvest.org/index.php/where_we_work/haiti/location_of_double_harvest_in_haiti/

Dear Simon,

I don’t think there’s a big production of vegetable seeds in Haiti, but I know there’s some seed saving and sharing happening, as well as some plant breeding. As you said, a lot of the seeds are imported, and many purchase seeds and inputs from agro-distributors, such as AgroService, which sells all around Haiti.

As Holly said, ORE could be a good resource in general, but it’s my understanding their focus has been on biofortified crops, such as QMP (Quality Maize Protein). They are based in Camp Perrin. There’s a small farm at Christianville Mission in Gressier, which has some vegetable production. I think they could also be a good resource.

I hope some of our network in Haiti can share more about current seed production and saving initiatives in this forum, but there’s also a Facebook group called Gardens and Trees that I’d recommend you join, where people who live and work in Haiti are active when it comes to this type of question.

Thank you for your question and for starting this important discussion.

Kind regards,

Cecilia

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Thanks a lot for the hints - what a lively forum we have. (This has been my first posting echo, but it will not be my last one :slight_smile:
I know ORE, I think this is the biggest player when it comes to locally produced seeds. But as far as I know they are specialized in cereals and beans. I have been in contact and we have even discussed to partner for seeds. Unfortunately lately they are not been very responsive. Their director died about a 1.5 years ago and it seems that the organisation lost some of its dynamism.
Roger, please keep me updated about your experience with multiplication of veggie seeds.
I have the impression that almost all NGOs work with imported seeds.
I would not only be interested in finding a source for seeds to start with, but even more to find people who are experienced with seed production, who could exchange with or even train the staff of our partner organisations.
Two of our partner organisations in North-West started experimenting with seeds production. I brought them seeds of carrots and onions from West Africa. Typically these veggies do not produce seeds in tropical conditions, as they are biannual plants. However, these varieties do produce seeds, at least they did in West Africa, so they should do in Haiti, as well. Anyhow I guess these are not the easiest species to start with, but only later I realized that so far they don’t produce their own seeds of tomatoes, eggplants and peppers either…
I think before my next visit I will order some seeds from the echo seeds.
Best wishes

Simon

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Simon,

Your post is inspiring me to keep working on my seed saving program. I was planning on just saving grains, but they already know how to do that in Haiti. A good veggie seed program would be of real value in Haiti.

Of all the references, Double harvest may be your best bet. I know they have a seed vault and the do a lot of veggie cultivation, so there is a good chance they do save veggie seeds. I had an agrinome come and do a day course on seed saving a couple years ago. It was pretty basic stuff, but its worth exploring. https://www.doubleharvest.org/. If you PM me, I can share the agrinome’s number, or just call the main office.

I’ve also gotten a lot of advice remotely from Mike Mueller with Hope seeds. He is a great resources. They will donate seeds for free too, as long as you are doing charity work and report back. You may not need to buy yours. http://hopeseeds.org/

Good to know about ORE. I’ve tried dozens of times to contact them through various channels, because they have so many similar projects as mine. In the end, I was only successful once.

Fyi, good seeds to start with could be pumpking and papaya. I see the locals in my area already are in the habit of collecting them from the fruits, drying them and then using them.

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From Mike Mueller at Hope Seeds:

"As you are already aware, we send no hybrids to Haiti and only what is the best quality open-pollinated seed available to us. There are a number of varieties within certain species which are easily reproduced in Haiti… okra, beans, hot peppers, eggplant, and others. Things like tomato and sweet pepper are also reproducible but may be adversely affected by the many viruses floating about in that tropical environment… and without some training in disease identification and their vectors it is possible that (unintentionally) a seed-saver may be spreading a devastating disease and hindering any crop / profits.

I concur that there is little trust within Haiti for the seed being sold by the few vendors… there have been many horror stories of very low or no germination, not true to type varieties, and then no recourse for the purchaser due to lack of fair seed trade laws within/enforced by a reputable department of agriculture.

What is a poor farmer to do…?

I am glad to be working alongside David Beausejour and Pierre Duclona of LesCayes region. They are producing Habanero, Eggplant, Okra, and some bean varieties with plans to test their capacity of tomato and sweet peppers. They have initiated a new enterprise (which I am helping get accomplished) called D&D Enterprise Agricola. They are planning to produce and sell the Haitian-grown seed. I believe you have met both of these men at past conferences… and David used to work at SEED with Frantz Clotaire, and Pierre taught some classes there at one time (as well as at the Un.of Caribbean in LesCayes).

I firmly believe that Haiti needs its own sustainable seed sources, and to do so it must enforce upon itself a trustworthy and accountable seed program… quality seed at fair market driven prices and offering the best varieties suited to Haiti. That is why I have chosen to work alongside credible men like David and Pierre."

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Dear all,

Thank you for this healthy discussion about veggie seeds production in Haiti. I am working for a local NGO known as FONHDAD (www.fonhdad.org). We’ve started recently a bean and maize seeds multiplication program involving directly farmers. We are opened to work also on veggie seeds production. We are located in the Eastern part of Port-au-Prince, not too far from Double harvest.

Greetings,

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I have been developing a relationship with a community in the Jean Rabel area. I would be interested in the experimentation being done in the North-West with seed production.

Dear Randy
Great to hear! Two of our partner organisations - GRADAID and OBRED - are experimenting with veggie seeds in the north west. They successfully multiplied a carrot variety that I have receives from West Africa. They also planted onion seeds from West Africa. They grew und bulped but have not yet flowered.
I just ordered some more seeds from Echo to experiment with. I will be in the region end of July, Beginning of August, and have the latest news.
I recommend the following publication (in french, can only be ordered as hard copy) to everybody experimenting with seeds in the tropics:
https://www.bede-asso.org/publication-semences-paysannes-afrique-ouest/
If you are interested I can put you in contact with GRADAID and OBRED.

PS: I would love if we would manage to organize a meeting/exchange/training with the organisations experimenting with vegetable seed production. However, I guess it are difficult times for such a gathering and everybody is busy with more urgent problems for the moment. But to be kept in mind.