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Smallholder Farmers Alliance Blog


Food Insecurity in Haiti

A field of beans in Haiti. SFA photo by William Charles Moss.

There are close to 10 million people in Haiti, 6 million of whom live in rural areas and rely on agriculture for their livelihoods. There are an estimated 600,000 farms in Haiti, and all but 3 percent of those are small-scale operations with an average of 1.5 hectares, or just under 4 acres. With a ratio of one farm for every 100 people, Haiti has one of the highest farm-to-population rates in the world. Logic would suggest this is enough farms and farmers to feed the nation, and up to the mid-1980’s that was the case. But Haiti now imports close to sixty percent of all the food it consumes. At the same time farmers are suffering because they can’t compete with the flood of cheap imported food, much of it subsidized by taxpayers in foreign lands.

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Planting Trees in Haiti With the Smallholder Farmers Alliance

Click image to download pdf version of this photo essay.

The Smallholder Farmers Alliance plants one million trees a year in Haiti. We have put together a photo essay that tells the inspiring story of how 2,000 small-scale farmers and their families go about planting these trees. Through images, we show how they grow the trees in nurseries and then transplant the seedlings onto their own and community land. The trees are used for food, timber, soil stabilization, fodder and fuel.

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Exit Strategy Aid Shows Promise in Haiti

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Three years ago a development expert (me), an agronomist (Timote Georges) and a shoe and apparel company (Timberland) set out to plant trees in Haiti. Despite a background in forestry, I had been working for five years in Haiti without putting that experience to use. Timote had been working with small-scale farmers planting trees, but was disappointed with the lack of tangible results. The Timberland Company had made a commitment to plant five million trees before 2015 and was looking for a partner for this initiative. The result of our collaboration is an ongoing experiment that is showing early signs of significant potential for Haiti and the rest of the developing world. I call it “exit strategy aid.”

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Fences Alive and Well and Living in Haiti

SFA member Gustave Laurient prepares to weave the tall branches of a Moringa tree into the
shorter Jatropha (identified by large leaves) to make a living fence to protect his field near Rofile, Haiti.
SFA photo by Hugh Locke.

We take for granted that when you need a fence, you either buy the material and build it yourself or you hire someone to do the job. For small-scale (also known as “smallholder”) farmers in countries like Haiti, that is not an option. It is simply too expensive. Even something as seemingly frugal as barbed wire strung between posts made from tree branches is beyond their reach. Haitian farmers have come up with a local variation on something that has a long history in many parts of the world: living fences.

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Timberland Helps Haiti Plant 2 Million Trees, and Counting

A farmer plants a tree in Haiti, as part of the Timberland and Smallholder Farmers Alliance tree planting
project in the rural area of Gonaives. SFA photo by Sebastian Petion.

Self-financing model of agroforestry brings sustainable benefits to farmers, communities and the natural environment in Haiti

STRATHAM, NH, January 28, 2013 – Three years after committing to plant 5 million trees in five years, Timberland shares progress of improved environmental, economic and social conditions in the rural region near Gonaives, Haiti.  In partnership with a local non-governmental organization, the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, Timberland supports an agroforestry program to train Haitian farmers to improve crop yields – and has planted 2.2 million trees along the way.

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Haitian Farmers Provide Their Own Relief Aid Following Hurricane Sandy

Junia Durogene (left) used a micro loan to buy rice that she is selling to Tanael Jean. Both are members
of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance cooperative near Gonaives. SFA photo by Timote Georges.

When hurricane Sandy caused colossal damage to Haiti’s agricultural sector last October, the Government and international donors stepped forward to provide seed and rice to help farmers recover from crop losses that ranged from 40 to 70 percent. One group of farmers, however, did not take part in that relief effort. Instead, they were able to pay for their own relief operation.

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Smallholder Productivity and Food Security

The Skoll World Forum is an excellent source of news and information regarding smallholder farmers.

Three-quarters of the world’s poorest live in rural areas. The majority rely on agriculture as their primary income and food source. Secure access to capital, land, technologies and other assets can lead to sustained food security and income generation – as well as contributing to long-term rural livelihoods. The aim is to move beyond subsistence farming and enable greater financial stability, but not at the expense of the environment. We advance innovations that address these issues not beneficiary by beneficiary but system wide. 

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Microfinance Service for Women Farmers in Haiti

Caroline Cius in the shop she set up with a US$50 loan from the Smallholder Farmers Alliance.
SFA photo by Suzanne Worthington.

It has long been a dream of Caroline Cius to have a shop in the front yard of her home and be able to supplement the income from the farm that she and her husband run near the small community of Pont-Philippe, about 20 minutes northwest of the Haitian city of Gonaives. “I had a shop before, but it was destroyed by Hurricane Jeanne in 2004 and I never had the money to start it again,” she said, “But a loan from the Alliance made it possible.” 

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