A climate for innovation: Changing livelihoods in Haitian rural, mountain regions

Authors: Caroline Staub*, University of Florida, Anne Gilot, University of Florida, Molene Pierre, University of Florida, Edzer Milord, University of Florida, Gerald Murray, University of Florida
Topics: Agricultural Geography, Hazards and Vulnerability, Third World
Keywords: Climate, agriculture, development, islands, innovation, Haiti
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/5/2019
Start / End Time: 3:05 PM / 4:45 PM
Room: 8229, Park Tower Suites, Marriott, Lobby Level
Presentation File: No File Uploaded

Farmers, in Haiti and elsewhere, often adjust their agricultural practices to make them more resilient in the face of variable weather conditions. Haiti’s agriculture is mainly rain-fed therefore changes in rainfall have a direct impact on agricultural performance. Small farmers there have been increasingly afflicted by direct and indirect consequences of extreme weather, experiencing changes in farm productivity and reduced yields, higher costs and competitiveness. Here we use focus groups of male and female farmers in four rural, mountainous areas in Haiti to explore challenges and associated responses to extremes, particularly the droughts and hurricanes that are occurring with increasing frequency in the research area. Results show that agriculture is in flux. There has been a recent shift to the production of more lucrative but financially demanding and weather-sensitive vegetables as the principal cash crops. Several creative agrarian and non-agrarian maneuvers were documented as responses to water issues. There has been an increase in reliance on livestock, emphasis on urban livelihood options including construction and transportation, an increased focus on education, and an increased tendency of younger people to emigrate, affecting the local labor force. The talk begins by discussing the key drivers of innovative and entrepreneurial livelihood strategies in rural mountain areas in Haiti, then explores the creative responses adopted by farmers and the participating actors and networks in the region. In conclusion, we propose a number of ways to improve rural advisory services for both male and female farmers in Haiti.

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