Merfy Jirolien, Journalist, Bon Nouvel, Haiti
Terrier Rouge is a community in the North-East department of Haiti situated at 36 kilometers from Cap-Haitien, the main city of the North. In 1984 the Episcopalian Church of Haiti established an agricultural technical school to train young men and women in the field of agriculture and the cultivation of vegetables in particular.
In early 2001, this centre had 37 students in the first year, with three women among them. The second year is being attended by 36 students (one woman in this group). The diploma course lasts two years, with one- week breaks following each trimester.
Sisal is the main crop that the community of Terrier-Rouge used to grow. Two factories, Fayeton and Derak, used to buy the peasant’s production of sisal.
In 1986, when the Dauphin factory closed its operations, the inhabitants turned to raising cattle, because many people believed that the land could not grow anything else than sisal.
However, according to the testimony of Erno Etienne, a native of the community, raising cattle has its problems also. “When it does not rain, lots of animals die because there is no food or water.”
The project to establish the centre was started by the episcopalian church in 1982. Already in two years time, the dream had become reality. According to Yves Mary Etienne, deputy head of the centre, “The school has two objectives, to train the children of farmers who do not reach far in school and who are not able to attend technical schools in the cities, as well as to teach peasants how to cultivate vegetable gardens with better techniques.
The centre welcomes youngsters who have finished primary school without regard for religious background or home village. They originate from all corners of the country, including Jeremie, Leogane, Latortue Island, etc.
Recently, the persons in charge were quite surprised to find a youth who was in the second year of the School of Law in Gonaives who changed studies and started attending the centre. He graduated in September of last year.
The centre, which gives primary importance to cultivating vegetables, provides not only field courses to the students, but also methodologies of agriculture, biology of plants and animals, management of cooperatives, accounting, rural legislation, micro enterprise management, cooking, etc.
Yves Mary Etienne explains the reasons why these classes are taught. “The school does not want students to sit down and automatically expect a job after graduation. With this training, they are enabled to create their own enterprises together with peasants of their village.”
The centre also provides training to the farmers. As a result there are many cooperatives in the area of marketing vegetables.
“The North-east of Haiti is very arid. We demonstrate that with water, seeds and insecticides, we can grow crops,” Yves Mary Etienne said, the school’s Principal.
The centre cultivates a number of crops, some of them unknown to the country, such as: yellow beans, violet and chinese cabbage, asparagus, etc. It even grows a type of sweet corn that can immediately be eaten after harvest. Due to the bad road, the centre cannot sell its crops in other areas of the country. Students, farmers and religious priests of Fort-Liberte are the main buyers and consumers. In this way the vegetables are not spoiled. The centre does not have a cold store.
Growing vegetables is always gives a hard time because of the insects that destroy the plants. `Four years ago, an unfamiliar disease called TYCC attacked our tomoto plantations`, said 12 years experience technician Pierre Antoine. In spite of all the insectisides used to chase them, we lose lots of tomato fruits each season. The disease is beleived to come from the Dominican Republic.
The Centre has to buy seeds in places where temperature is similar to Haiti like in the Dominican Republic or Florida in the United States..
In spite of its 17 years of functionning, the school is still not self-dependent and is being supported from time to time by the Espicopalian Church in USA.
One of the dearest dream of architect engineer Ernst Delvar, the Director of the Centre is to expand the activities beyond growing vegetables that the population starts to practive quite well. He hopes to have other classes taught to the students and the community as well as establishing a forest to grow construction and fruit trees.