Haiti: what comes after the quake
On January 12th, 2010, Haiti suffered one of the harshest earthquake on record. Neither its institutions, its infrastructure, nor its people were prepared for this type of emergency. Immediately after the event, countries, NGOs and international organizations expressed their will of helping the nation, by sending food, clothes, provisional shelters, medicines, among other supplies required to ensure life on the island.
Every solution at the moment was aiming to solve the emergency, giving shelter to people (2.300.000 people were displaced by the quake), distributing food and clothes for those who lost everything, even offering medical care in temporary and makeshift hospitals, as several hospitals were completely destroyed. Damages and losses were calculated to be more than 120% the Gross Domestic Product of the country in 2009.
Since the second half of the XX century, Haiti has gone through different political, socioeconomic and environmental events that had severely affected its population. The country is currently considered the poorest country in Western Hemisphere, with 77% of its population living below the national poverty line.
Given this background, different institutions are active on the island for many years, working from different areas to provide assistance and bring development solutions for the Haitians. Catholic Relief Services (CRS) is one of these institutions, leading projects in different areas as education, microfinance, water and sanitation and agriculture, among others. After the earthquake and with the purpose of starting a project that can improve small farmers income, CRS asked CIAT to study the dynamics of the coffee and mango value chains in southern Haiti, as a baseline for their future projects.
Our work included: interview different actors from both value chains through semi-structured interviews and participatory workshops, identify the main constraints of the value chains and propose different alternatives to tackle each constraint. Below our main findings:
Mango value chain
- Until late 1980’s and early 1990’s Haiti was among the ten major mango producing and exporting countries. Yields have remained stagnant in the last 20 years, while other countries have increased their yields and cropped areas (Mexico is the main mango provider in USA, while Brazil and some African countries are providers for Europe)
- Francisque variety is the only exportable variety in the country. Only 15% of the total mango production corresponds to this variety, and around 30% of it is exported, the remaining goes to the local market.
- USA is the main destination of Haitian mango exports. There is a low supply period of fresh mango in October and November, with high prices. Advantages could be taken through crop management practices (i.e. pruning, fertilization, water stress) in order to promote harvest during this period.
- Processed mango products may offer higher profits. There is a market opportunity for dried mangoes, a product with growing demand in USA.
- Challenges to improve production are: increasing planting density, renewing old plantations by pruning and grafting with Francisque variety, controlling fruit fly populations in the field, and reducing current postharvest losses.
Coffee value chain
- Deforestation has left the country with less than 2% of forest cover. About 50% of it corresponds to coffee farms. This loss of vegetation has resulted in accelerated erosion, decreased soil natural fertility and water retention, and waterways sedimentation. It is estimated that Haiti losses 10,000-15,000 to fertile hectares/year due to erosion.
- Due to the available microclimates, there is a potential to produce high-quality washed coffee in the country. An initiative to produce high-quality coffee (Haïtian Blue) was established some years ago, but it hasn’t produced the expected outputs (in terms of coffee volumes and revenues).
- The coffee borer (Hypothenemus hampei), coffee rust (Hemileia vastatrix), root roting and old coffee stands (crop renovation is not a common practice) are currently the main threats to production.
- Few organizations in the south have the facilities and skills to produce washed coffee (3 out of 6)
During the first days of September, both documents produced for the coffee and mango chain were released by CRS and are available on these links:
This is what southern of Haiti looks like:
What was the music a year ago in Haiti?: