The Question Remaining
At the end of my summer in Haiti, I am stuck with a question, which I have come to see that many others in the line of agroforestry technology have been stuck with.
Why is it not easier?
This may seem like a simple-minded question, but it racks at me.
The technology is available, the science there to back it up. There are certain agroforestry technologies that are known to work, certain trees and crops known to be successful, but their adoption by farming communities is always slow, if they are adopted at all.
Research has been done to try and understand the factors at play.
Certain factors like landholding security, capital, education all play in to whether a farmer will adopt a new technology. They learn by trial, holding experience as the ultimate judge of a practices value and fit for their own farm. So, when an agronomist shows up with something, such as vetiver grass terracing, an interest of my own, a farmer is unlikely to simply jump on board and begin the practice. The risks are too high. A failed harvest or ruined field comes at too great a cost for many of the farmers.
So, in part, there is a lack of communication, or, perhaps worse, engagement. And I believe this could be remedied.
Perhaps, instead of bringing technology to the farmers, the farmers should be brought to the technology, and active participants in the research process and trials of new techniques.
This is where I hope to push the best practices study conducted by myself and two Haitian agronomists this summer, so that this fundamental issue can be addressed.