Country: Haiti

Haitian bean farmers partnering in the bean experiment. Haitian bean farmers partnering in the bean experiment.

A 5-year bean experiment

As I walked through bean fields in Turpin and Zoranje during Haiti’s last rainy season I realized the crops had contracted a virus. Unfortunately, there is no cure for these plants once infected and this particular infection came in the seed. Think of when you go to the Dr. you get, “sorry, this one’s a nasty virus, you’re just going to have to ride it out.” So, who do I call, what do I do? Standing there I realized that as Convoy of Hope’s director of agriculture initiatives, I could either take on this task or hope that another scientist with the same training at another organization happened to walk in this field and discover the same virus.

Fastforward, we went with option A. Through traditional breeding programs scientists have found virus resistant varieties of black beans. We are now experimenting to see if these varieties can grow in Haiti where food-security is a leading cause and symptom of poverty.

I just got back from Haiti where Convoy of Hope initiated a 5-year experiment and partnership with a team of USDA-ARS scientists and bean breeders. We’re testing 28 varieties of beans so experimental that most of them only have numbers for names. Their promising traits span from higher nutrient value to drought resistance. Over the next 75-80 days we will observe factors like survival, growth and disease-resistance all to determine which variety to breed next. In the end we’ll also evaluate taste, color, market and farmer acceptance, and nutritional value. The ideal is to arrive at a bean that will grow with optimal yield, nutritional make-up and market value.

This little piece of science has the potential to make long-lasting generational change in Haiti, score one for the nerds!

Note: For scientists that just have to know, this is a 5-year experiment set up in a corn/bean rotation as a complete randomized block design with 4 treatments and 3 full replicates.  

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Agriculture / Program Updates
Clean, filtered water (left.) Filthy, disease-causing water (right.) Clean, filtered water (left.) Filthy, disease-causing water (right.)

A very welcomed email

If the Convoy of Hope logo has talked to you on social media it was probably me. I can honestly say it’s not just a job, it’s a passion. That aside, even the most passionate person can tire of staring at a computer screen. A few days after World Water Day I was nearing screen glare overload when I opened an email that blasted through the 3 o’clock funk like an espresso powered locomotive.

I started to read an email titled “5 Great iPhotos” from Karl and Ann, two of our field associates in Haiti. I’ve done my best to summarize their very welcomed email below.

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Children's Feeding / Program Updates

Story of One: Bonifast, Haiti

When the large metal gate opens to a Convoy of Hope-sponsored orphanage in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, children rush to greet visiting Convoy of Hope staff. One particular little boy makes his way to the front of the group and cracks a smile when he recognizes the group.

Bonifast has come a long way in the last year and a half. When Convoy of Hope staff first met Bonifast, he was covered in his own waste and was severely malnourished. Haiti was still in immediate recovery mode after the 2010 earthquake and Bonifast seemed to be falling through the cracks.

But after being taken care of by an orphanage where Convoy of Hope provides food, Bonifast is healthy, happy and now has a future ahead of him.

“It’s because of our many supporters that we’re able to report on the progress Bonifast has made and we are extremely grateful for that,” says Hal Donaldson, president of Convoy of Hope. “We hope to continue to be able to provide for Bonifast and children just like him around the world.”

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Children's Feeding / Program Updates