In May of 2015, Chalice, an international educational and charitable agency, commissioned International Sustainable Community Assistance to develop an implementation plan entitled: “Identifying Agri-Business Opportunities and Developing a Community Agriculture Livelihoods Plan in the Cap Haitian region of northern Haiti”. The implementation of this plan, over a four year period, included the establishment of 27 family backyard chicken raising enterprises, an egg-laying barn with over 400 laying hens, a mango jam production co-operative and an agro supply store. This ISCA development initiative has allowed Chalice to support their two site communities, Terrier Rouge and Grand Bassin, by creating additional income for poor families and four local jobs through family-based enterprises and the mango processing co-operative.
There are always challenges with any development project but also much to be celebrated! One of the keys to the success of the projects lies in the educational foundation that Chalice had established in the communities of Terrier Rouge and Grand Baisson. The high degree of literacy has contributed to the project’s success and sustainability.
Much of the success of any agricultural enterprise is the ability of participants to keep good financial records. Throughout the project’s 4 years, the level of record-keeping maintained by the families has been excellent. It signals that the enterprises are more than just “chicken farming”, but rather they are being treated as “real business”. It is exciting to see that the owners of many of 27 back yard chicken enterprises are using their profits to expand their operations and other agricultural ventures, such as purchasing new seeds for their gardens and/or new livestock.
The success of these first agriculture businesses has involved much more than building infrastructure. Capacity building, training, mentoring, and continued support and encouragement from ISCA and the project’s support staff have all contributed to the agro project’s success. Much of this success of this project has been due to the careful guidance of the ISCA Haiti North site team as well as the careful selection of project beneficiaries
As mentioned above, the educational component of the project has been a priority. During the four phases of agro development, ISCA staff conducted training sessions with the families which focused on business finance, coop maintenance, and poultry health. It was found that the initial coops served as excellent learning opportunities for new members. The most successful of the first family beneficiaries demonstrated excellent management skills as well as marketing savvy. One of the challenges families contended with was with the marketing of the birds. This is not unusual given the newness of the enterprise. It was found that the families who sold birds directly from their homes were most successful, with the women proving to be the best marketers.
Although Haiti is seen as a “poor” country it is rich in agriculture resources. The local abundance of mangoes presented an opportunity to have local jam production. 2017 saw the establishment of a women’s fruit processing co-operative after an intensive 6-day training session. Although the Mango Jam Co-op has had its ups and downs due to the lack of marketing resources it remains in operation and provides local Haitian single mothers with additional income and most importantly a flexible work schedule.
As a result of all that we have accomplished, ISCA is pleased to look forward to seeking new agricultural development opportunities. We are confident we can utilize the agro skills applied in northern Haiti to new areas of the country suffering the same deplorable economic circumstances pre-existing in the northern Cape Haitian area.