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Researchers introducing sustainable agriculture practices to improve food security
Date:3/15/2010

McKenna said, "and food production has been declining since the mid 1980s. Also, most of Haiti's soils are very severely degraded as result of unsustainable farm practices."

McKenna's project, titled "Conservation agriculture productions systems for the Central Plateau of Haiti," will focus on technologies to make farming more productive and sustainable, and strengthen the agricultural education, service, and market institutions by training Haitians for key positions.

"Most residents of the Central Plateau are poor subsistence farmers who depend on rain-fed crop systems and livestock grazing for their income and food," McKenna said. "Conservation agriculture techniques involving cover crops, no-till production, and residue management have proven to be successful in other countries with similar soil erosion, fertility, and water holding problems. This project will test these methods of improving food security, profitability and sustainability in the Plateau of Haiti and hopefully transfer these techniques to the existing agricultural system on farmer fields."

McKenna and four other SANREM researchers from Virginia Tech were in Haiti setting up the project when the devastating earthquake struck on January 12. They plan to return in mid-March to continue laying the groundwork for research at farming sites 100 miles north of Port-au-Prince.

Virginia Tech's Office of International Research, Education, and Development has managed the SANREM CRSP since 2004. Collaborating with Virginia Tech in the SANREM program for its next five-year phase are scientists at Kansas State University, with research sites in Ghana and Mali; North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University, Cambodia and the Philippines; University of Hawaii, India and Nepal; University of Tennessee at Knoxville, Lesotho, Malawi, and Mozambique; and University of Wyoming, Kenya and Uganda.

Theo Dillaha, program director of SANREM CRSP and professor of bio
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Contact: Miriam Rich
mrich@vt.edu
540-231-4153
Virginia Tech
Source:Eurekalert  

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