Two-thirds of all Haitians depend on the agricultural sector, mainly through small-scale subsistence farming. They are vulnerable to damage from frequent natural disasters exacerbated by the country’s widespread deforestation. In Caiman, the largest obstacles to success for farmers are a lack of access to water during the dry season and a lack of education in farming methods. United Christians International (UCI) is addressing these issues by providing irrigation pumps and agricultural education in the community. Sol Louie is an agronomist who teaches at the university and is on the UCI board. Sol, along with some of the agricultural students from the university, provide most of the agricultural training for local farmers, including training on how to use and maintain a mechanical irrigation system. These systems are made up of a portable water pump and plenty of flexible piping that allow the farmers to fill basins on higher ground with water from the river. The water is then gravity-fed from the basins to the gardens and fields. Usually between three and five families share each pump. Each family pays a small amount to cover the fuel and maintenance costs of the systems and meets with the rest of the families regularly to share ideas and talk about how things are going with their crops.
Sol also oversees an animal husbandry program at UCI. Pigs, goats, and cows are given to a local family under the condition that the first litter be given back to UCI. UCI then gives the animals to other families in the area. The program is growing at such a rate that an enclosure needs to be built for litters of animals that have come back and are waiting until being given to families.
With the success of these programs, UCI envisions future projects of benefit to the community and the university. A 10,000 bird chicken barn, an aquaponics system, and many more agricultural trainings are on the table for the future.