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Published: 1993-07-19

Martin Gingerich, Haiti. The note in EDN 39-4 on using Guinea grass, Panicum maximum, as a mulch for onions arrived while Martin was learning about a traditional system using Guinea grass in Haiti. This is in an area near La Valee Jacmel at about 800-1000 meters and 2,000 mm (80 inches) of rainfall. He writes, “Just like the example from Jamaica, the system is used by all farmers in the area and no planting is attempted without it. We could not find anyone who remembers when people started using the system. It is older than those using it today.”

“Farmers grow mostly corn, beans and some cabbage. There are plots that have only Guinea grass, often owned by larger landholders. Once a year the grass is harvested. A farmer wanting to plant a grain crop in the coming months will purchase and harvest a plot of Guinea grass, which he spreads over the entire field that he intends to plant. These are not large fields. The next step is to tie an animal in the plot to eat and trample the grass. They use horses, burros, mules, cattle and goats. Pigs are tied near the house and their refuse is carried to the field. After the farmer removes the animal from the field he lets it set 23 weeks. He then deeply tills the field with a pickaxe, incorporating some of the Guinea grass and leaving some on the surface. Planting is done soon after tillage.”

Cite as:

ECHO Staff 1993. Echos From our Network. ECHO Development Notes no. 41