Agricultural Technology student receives seed bank grant to help feed the future
By Amy Loeffler
Recent history has not been kind to Haiti. In many ways the country is still reeling from the 2010 earthquake that leveled Port-au-Prince, and access to nutritious food and basic health care remain elusive for many of the country’s residents.
But Junior Beauvais, 26, is trying to change that — one small seed at a time.
Beauvais, who is pursuing his associate degree in agricultural technology, recently received a grant of 15,000 euros — currently valued at about $16,000 — from multinational pasta company Barilla to start a seed bank.
This summer, Beauvais is constructing a building to house heirloom seeds that he will gather from farmers throughout Haiti. According to Beauvais, who hails from Jacmel on Haiti’s southern coast, the hearty heirloom seeds will produce more nutritious and prolific crops, which in turn will generate more cash for farmers and allow them to send their children to school.
“I can build the seed bank in one or two months,” said Beauvais. “The longer process will include building a program to increase the number of seeds, buying construction equipment, paying for staff to educate farmers, and starting a seed buy-back program.”
Beauvais will graduate in 2016. No doubt he will take the lessons from his time as a student here in Blacksburg back to Haiti where he hopes to work as a teacher and change the face of his community one student — and one seed — at a time.