Dil Thavarajah (PI), Associate Professor, Pulse Quality and Nutrition, Plant and Environmental Sciences, Clemson University – lead legume biofortification and nutrigenomics.
Stephen Kresovich (Co-PI), Professor, Plant Breeding and Translational Genomics, Robert and Lois Coker Trustees Chair of Genetics – lead biofortification and translational genomics.
Mr. Ricardo St. Aime, PES, Fulbright Scholar – lead local contact and future PhD candidate.
Dr. Elliot Jesch, Assistant Professor, Food Nutrition and Packaging Sciences – lead human nutrition and physiology.
Dr. Pam Mack, Professor, Science, Technology and Society, Department of History – lead cultural and social awareness of food security.
Miss. Meredith Mcswain, PES, Undergraduate Student, Extension Intern – lead “Tiger Garden” concept for Haitian communities to access more fresh vegetables.
Dr. Robert Polomski, Extension Professor, PES – lead extension, education, and service to smallholder farmers.
Dr. Gael Pressoir, Executive Research Director, Vice Dean Research, University of Quisqueya, Faculty of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, Haiti – lead Haitian research, extension, and service activities related legume/cereal biofortification. Dr. Pressoir has a team of colleagues including cereal/legume breeders, food technologists, soil scientists, and agronomists.
Dr. Pushparajah Thavarajah, Adjunct Assistant Professor, Food Chemistry, PES – lead food processing and utilization for food insecure communities.
Abstract: The Republic of Haiti is the most food insecure nation in the Caribbean. Food insecurity is a persistent issue – i.e., one third of Haitians are food insecure, and half of the children and women suffer from severe hunger and malnutrition. Iron, zinc, beta-carotene, and folate deficiencies are the most prevalent micronutrient deficiencies; indeed, more than half of Haitians are anemic, stunted, and wasted at birth. Women and young children are the most vulnerable groups with respect to micronutrient malnutrition or “hidden hunger”. The University of Quisqueya is one of the leading agricultural institutes in Haiti. Their team has established breeding programs mainly for cereals (sorghum and maize) and is planning to expand to include pulses (common bean, pigeon pea, and cowpea), mainly for mountainous regions. More than 60% of Haiti’s arable land is underutilized due to deforestation, drought, and the lack of farmer support. As such, vigorous research, education, and service programs are essential to improve Haitian cropping systems with highly nutritious food crops that can be adopted into local farming systems. We propose to establish a partnership with the sorghum and Jatropha breeding team from the University of Quisqueya to introduce a value-added legume and cereal cropping system approach to combat malnutrition. The objectives of this proposed seed grant are to: (1) determine current limitations in Haitian food systems and the nutritional quality of locally available food crops; (2) establish research focus areas and recruit qualified Co-PIs; and (3) develop a USAID/WFP proposal with a transdisciplinary, inter-institutional team of research and extension professionals to improve Haitian smallholder food and nutritional security through biofortified crop production.
Caribbean location/s impacted: Haiti
Read the progress report for this initiative. [PDF, 2.9MB]