A Seed System Security Assessment (SSSA) was carried out in Haiti in May-June 2010. The work assessed the impact of the 12 January 2010 earthquake on households and agricultural livelihoods, including possible changes in assets, land holdings, labor availability, income generation activities, crop profiles and seed use. The work also analyzed acute seed security issues, monitoring farmers’ seed procurement strategies and examining the effects of any aid given. As a third thrust, the SSSA looked at chronic seed security problems, including those related to seed/grain markets, agricultural product transformation and access to modern varieties. Hence the foci included ‘very short term’, as well as short- and medium-term issues.
Ten sites have been included in the assessment. These are located in the following communes: Bassin Bleu, Chantal, Hinche, Lascahobas, Verrettes, Marigot, Le Petit Goave (plains/hills), Léogâne, Belle Anse and La Vallée de Jacmel. The sites typify Haiti smallholder agricultural regions and allow for insights into the mix of areas in which humanitarian and development aid unfolds. In terms of agro-ecology, the sites range from the better-off irrigated areas of Verrettes, to some of the drought-prone zones of Bassin Bleu, and include a range of mountainous and lowland locales . Furthermore, Léogâne, La Vallée de Jacmel, and Le Petite Goave are located directly in the earthquake epicenter and can be contrasted and compared with the other seven sites scattered across the country.
The SSSA consisted of a total of 983 comprehensive farmer interviews, plus 35 focus group sessions (21 mixed, 15 women only), key informant interviews, and commissioned studies on special topics. Note that an SSSA goes well beyond a conventional seed needs assessment as it homes in on specific seed security problems communities face, and then recommends actions to alleviate specific constraints, and often improve systems. (For more on the SSSA method, see Sperling, 2008, http://webapp.ciat.cgiar.org/africa/pdf/sssa_ manual_ciat.pdf.)
Findings are summarized below under three headings: immediate effects of the earthquake; acute problems in the area of seed security; and chronic concerns regarding the seed system.