Building Sustainable Business Opportunities in Haiti (Why Coffee Matters)
Singing Rooster has been investing in small producers in Haiti for over a decade. We launched operations with Haitian coffee farmers in 2009 and became 501c3 nonprofit in 2010.
We’ve increased yields, planted hundreds of thousands of new coffee trees (and shade tree canopies), renovated hundreds of farms, and improved processing techniques. We’ve taught business management skills to small farmer co-ops, and we’ve created in-roads to markets for small artist producers.
Coffee was a once significant crop and can be a major factor in Haiti’s path to self-sustainability (job creation, dignity). Now add in mangoes, avocados, rice, plantains, coconuts, and you have a party.
You with us?
Want long-lasting impact in Haiti? Want to create jobs, business ops, self-sustainability?
If you’re looking to create long lasting change in Haiti, agriculture employs thousands.
Employ farmers, and rural economies begin to flourish. Children value communities and don’t move to the depressing city. Farmers (not wealthy middleman companies) spend earnings in Haiti.
Support Haiti’s current farmers (coffee, cacao, rice, avocado, mangoes), eat local produce (just say NO to U.S. rice!), then invest in future farmers by developing an army of backyard, community gardeners.
- Haiti is often called a Republic of NGOs for good reason. In 1998, the World Bank estimated up to 20,000 non governmental agencies operating in Haiti (includes church-based nonprofits).
- Those numbers likely increased after the 2010 earthquake during which CNN reported over 40,000 NGO workers and volunteers are in Haiti on any given day. NGOs provide Haiti with necessary stability through ideas, leadership, tools, equipment, resources and money.
- Half of all clean drinking water is provided by NGOs
- 85% of all schools are private, run by NGOs
- 70% healthcare is provided by NGOs (but there’s a catch 22 w/ free healthcare; it puts Haitian clinics and doctors out of business)
These numbers are significant; given NGOs and the thousands of volunteers chose to be in Haiti to make helpful impact, it becomes our duty, responsibility to turn next to job-creation:
- With rampant unemployment (66%), jobs are few. All those schools pumping out educated kids – with no place to go.
- Haiti imports over 60% of its food (this is a BIG hint with how you may best impact Haiti with job creation)
- 2.2 billion rolls into Haiti annually from Diaspora — that’s 33% of the Gross Domestic Product
- Trump’s plan to kick out 60,000 Haitians who’ve been living in the U.S for a decade+ under TPS may flood Haiti with people who’ve been educated or trained in the U.S. (imagine Haitians who stayed in Haiti competing w/ these folks)
In a country where unemployment hovers around 66%, over a third of the GDP is western union and 60% of the food is imported, we need to bring the hammer down on creating sustainable jobs.
With a majority of Haitians living as small-holder farmers, supporting Haiti’s current farmers in the U.S. AND in Haiti (coffee, cacao, rice, avocado, mangoes), then investing in future farmers — developing an army of backyard, community gardeners becomes a BIG part of the business opportunity solution.
Take Coffee for Example — read more about Singing Rooster’s work w/ coffee farmers
Recommendation #1: Change starts in your own cup
By simply changing what you put in your own coffee cup, you’ll infuse rural economies overnight. Singing Rooster can’t presently sell all of the coffee we have access too. We regularly turn away farmers who want to join one of our partner groups.
If you can convince your own family, friends, and congregation to switch to Haitian coffee, this impacts Haiti significantly.
- put Haitian coffee in your morning cup
- serve it at coffee hour
- convince the boss at work to switch to Haitian coffee
- assign youth groups to monthly coffee carts
We fully understand that earning $3 a bag isn’t nearly as exciting as cashing a $300 or $3,000 check, but unless you are willing to make advances towards improving Haiti’s ability to feed and care for itself, then expect no long term growth.
Recommendation #2: Eat Local / Stop eating white rice when in Haiti (80% comes from the US)
Tell your Haitian partners that when you visit (there are tens of thousands of us there every day), you refuse to eat white Rice. If rice is served, ask that they revert to pre-Clinton rice dumping days and serve rice once or twice weekly (Haitian elders will tell you that’s how it was decades ago — rice was a treat, eaten on Sundays). Insist that when you are served rice, it is rice grown in Haiti. Be warned, it’s more expensive (Haitian farmers don’t receive heavy subsidies like US farmers).
Where to buy Haitian rice? We’re thinking of launching an eat local food distribution center at our new roastery in Croix des Bouquets. If your group is near us, let’s talk. Other ways to help push Haiti forward:
- bring your own refillable water bottle (refuse bottled water – always; demand that your guesthouse not sell bottled water but do provide refillable water stations)
- bring your own Tupperware — no more Styrofoam moat (then leave behind for fellow visitors)
Why this is important: supporting local rice farmers creates a need for more rice (jobs: growing, processing, packaging, distributing). Excellent article on how the US decimated Haiti’s rice market.
Request in-season fruit & vegetables. Integrate healthy cooking into school curriculum:
What grows in Haiti? Carrots, beets, potatoes, sweet potatoes, leeks, cucumbers, broccoli, cabbage, zucchini, pumpkin, artichoke, eggplant, onions, garlic, avocado, and mirilton. tropical fruits melons, papayas, pineapple, lemons, oranges, chadec (a cousin of grapefruit), passion fruit, cherimoya, coconuts, bananas, and mangoes!
Part of the solution includes understanding Haiti’s soil. Full disclosure: we are not soil experts but would like to connect with one. Here’s an interesting article we found online about Haiti’s soil. It’s a really long (long) article, but useful?
Recommendation #3: revamp community projects & the school curriculum around agriculture
An entire curriculum of language-learning, math & science can be situated around community gardens: chemistry of soil analysis, biology of plant species, marketing crops to local consumers, health education through cooking local. Create a task force of educators & other interested parties. There are so many resources to fuel the work:
School Gardens — A ton of useful materials
Start a classroom garden by following these basic steps
Utilize our garden lesson plans for connections to Common Core standards and children’s literature
Download and customize our This Week in the Garden weekly activity guides for your school garden, or use them as they are!
Bountiful Grains – vegetable garden layout
Why creating learning opportunities in Haiti around agriculture is important:
- reciting isn’t learning; situating learning around meaningful activities engages learners
- creates future farmers / gardeners means less dependence on foreign food
- creates future jobs — gardeners sell local produce to the local markets
- produce feeds students at the school
- a better, more nutritious diet (starchy rice sits in the gut; vitamins from veggies = fuel for the brain)
Singing Rooster doesn’t have THE answer for job creation / economic self-sustainability in Haiti, but given most Haitians survive off the land, 60% of the food is imported and that volunteers are there by the 10’s of thousands… investing in agriculture just makes sense.
Singing Rooster builds Sustainable Businesses in Haiti by investing in coffee farmers. Coffee employs thousands. Investing in agriculture is part of Haiti’s long-term sustainability. If not you, who? If not now, when?