Rice for Grande Saline: Community Garden Update

There has been a lot of activity in the Community Garden in Grande Saline. In fact, you would hardly recognize it because it has been completely reworked to accommodate our very first planting of rice.  In case you have lost track of our progress, this is the third planting in the garden.  Last November the community planted rice and beans and melons. Hundreds of pounds of beans and corn were harvested in February, and then we had a second corn planting. Here are some pictures from the second corn harvest. If you keep reading, you will see that the garden looks completely different today.

After the second corn crop was harvested, the farmers began the long process of growing rice.  They prepared a special plot to plant the rice seeds.  Here you can see the rice seedlings growing from the seeds. The July 2016 Health for Haiti team visited the garden a few weeks ago and had the pleasure of seeing the beautiful rice seedlings and the changing landscape in the garden.

After a couple of months the rice is ready for the second stage. The seedlings have to be replanted in water.  The seedlings must be spaced out to grow properly.  The farmers had to remove all of the residual corn stalks and weeds from the rest of the garden, and then rework the land into plots that could be flooded with water.  Here you can see the farmers preparing the land to replant the rice.

The farmers did a tremendous amount of work to change the garden into rice plots. And today, the seedlings were relocated to the new plots. You can see several of the school children helping to replant the rice. If all goes well, they will be enjoying this rice for lunch in the fall or winter! The children enjoyed a small meal after they finished their work.

The replanted rice has to mature for 3 to 4 months before it can be harvested. After the harvest, there are still four more stages to pass through before the rice can be eaten. The mature plants need to be cut down.  Then the plants are beaten to separate the rice grains from the stalks.  After that the rice will be dried in the sun and, finally, the grains must be separate from the hulls. Below you can see the replanted seedlings in the rice plots.

It is a lot of work to grow rice!  Rice is a major staple in Haiti and has been grown there for hundreds of years.  Until the 1980s Haitians were self-sufficient with regards to rice production. Sadly, Haiti now relies on imported rather than domestic rice and the Haitian market is flooded with rice imports.The decline in local rice production has been devastating for people in rural Haiti. With the Community Garden, Health for Haiti is working to encourage the growth and purchase of local rice in Grande Saline. We hope that by supporting farmers and rice production in Grande Saline, we might have at least a small positive impact on the local economy.

Thanks to everyone who has worked to support the Community Garden in Grande Saline!

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