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Complexité de la crise agraire d’un écosystème de montagne en Haïti. Quelles voies d’amélioration des conditions de vie paysanne et de préservation du milieu ?

Abstract : Haiti has experienced significant deforestation during the last century. On the slopes, reduced forest cover results in severe soil erosion and generates important damages downstream. In response to this problem, agricultural land use restrictions and reforestation of areas most exposed to erosive risk have been the main response of the Haitian government and international organizations for several decades. Thanks to the case study of the area of La Borne, located in the Matheux mountain range and uphill the large rice plain of the Artibonite, this study aims to analyze the impact on farmers of projects that prevent the use of rural lands other than for reforestation purposes. We also consider alternative ways of development that would reach both objectives to preserve mountainous ecosystem while improving the food and economic situation of peasants.This research was based on extensive fieldwork. It has shown that the area’s population growth during recent decades has been associated with an increase in cultivated areas. This has been made possible by a reduction in the duration of fallow and an extension of crop area to the steepest slopes. The reproduction of soil fertility in cultivated areas, which is permitted by association with livestock, is compromised by fodder availability and farmers’ investment capacity. They evolve indeed in a socio-economic context economically very unfavorable. These factors limit the size of their livestock. Yields and organic matter content of soil quickly decline, leading to a increasing erosion on the slopes. The analysis of the agrarian system of La Borne made it possible to understand that agricultural land use limitation in the most eroded areas, except for reforestation purposes, would result in further reduction of fodder supplies and would accentuate existing imbalances. The poorest farmers, whose farming activity depends mostly on the exploitation of targeted areas, would be the first to be affected.Some farmers in the region have begun implementing profound transformations that contribute to solving the fertility crisis of the ecosystem. They have adapted and used with a systemic approach several techniques acquired during development projects. Thanks to a strong intensification of work, they have built terraces on the slopes and managed to better control runoff water. It enables them to develop new farming systems which rely on fodder introduction and associated crops under tree cover. The outcome is increased soil organic matter rate, better infiltration capacity and improved crop yields. Implementation of these practices requires a secure land tenure and an access to suitable equipment, which is relatively expensive. These new farming systems offer an alternative way of development that both limit soil erosion and increase food production on mountains areas, taking into account peasants interests.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, September 23, 2020 - 5:32:09 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, January 19, 2021 - 11:09:09 AM
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Adeline Bouvard. Complexité de la crise agraire d’un écosystème de montagne en Haïti. Quelles voies d’amélioration des conditions de vie paysanne et de préservation du milieu ?. Géographie. Institut agronomique, vétérinaire et forestier de France, 2019. Français. ⟨NNT : 2019IAVF0015⟩. ⟨tel-02947199⟩



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