Haitian farmers to benefit from climate change fund

Yvette Nicholas of Haiti hasn’t been farming long, but she knows that things are different today than when her parents were young.

“The older people taught me that rain started in April,” says the 19 year-old. “Now people are planting their gardens in June and July because there’s no rain.”

Yvette lives in Kabay in the Desarmes region of central Haiti. Through its member, Mennonite Central Committee Canada, Canadian Foodgrains Bank is assisting 150 people in the community, including Yvette, with agriculture and reforestation initiatives – things like seeds, trees to hold soil on the steep hillsides, fencing to keep animals out of gardens, and farming advice.

Yvette appreciates the help. But one thing the Foodgrains Bank can’t do is make it rain.

Across Haiti, rainfall patterns have become erratic. Farmers say they can no longer predict when rain will come – their agricultural calendar is in disorder. In 2015, the situation was exacerbated by El Niño; the country was in the grip of one of the worst droughts in living memory.

Despite the lack of rainfall, Yvette saw progress with her garden.

“These peanuts that I planted, there wasn’t much rain and I didn’t get as much as I wanted, but I bought two chickens with what I made from them,” she said.

Although Canadians can’t make it rain for Yvette and the millions of other small-scale farmers in the developing world who are affected by changing climate patterns, they can do other things to help – such as supporting the Foodgrains Bank Climate Fund.

Through the Climate Fund, Canadians who are concerned about climate change can track their personal contributions to the greenhouse gas emissions that cause climate change – things like travel, heating and electrical use – and then make a donation based on the amount of carbon they produce.

Donations this year to the Fund will go to a Foodgrains Bank agroforestry project in the Desarmes region of Haiti that is operated by its member, MCC Canada.

Through the project (which will reach 17,300 individuals), farmers who are dealing with deforestation, soil erosion and desertification will get tree seedlings to plant, and also receive intensive micro-forest and agroforestry training. The anticipated outcomes include improved agricultural production, improved dietary diversity and better nutrition, especially for children.

Go to http://foodgrainsbank.ca/get-involved/the-climate-fund/ to learn more about the fund and follow links to carbon calculators that give an idea of how our activities impact the environment. A suggested donation would be $25 per tonne, which reflects the market for offset-type payments. Regular donations to the Climate Fund are also welcome.

By supporting the Climate Fund, Canadians can make a difference for some of the many small-scale farmers who are struggling to adapt to the effects of a changing climate.

As Yvette put it about her goals for the future: “My dream is to advance, have things to eat and seeds to save. Then I would buy four chickens instead of two.”

—John Longhurst, director of resource and public engagement, Canadian Foodgrains Bank

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