Help Haitians Grow Food Themselves

 
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An ox-plow at work
An ox-plow at work

It is a difficult task for farming to grow in Haiti.  Yet, 60% of the population is reported as dependent on farming for livelihood.  With the steady lack of employment alternatives and the lack of income, local farming remains a priority for all Haitians who are unable to afford imported goods for adequate food intake.  In addition, basic social services that can create a safety net for the poor do not exist.  

Although a priority on agriculture has been established under the current administration, targeted for assistance is agro-business for export and large import of basic staples, paralyzing the growth of the local market.  Yet, small family farms are the core of food production for local food intake. Bank loans for farmers are very limited and practically nonexistent for the poor farmers. Credit Unions or groups are taxed once their credit fund balance reaches $1 million gourdes; Lambi Fund is supporting those who take the initiative and we are reinforcing their capacity to fund themselves.  

“I grew to understand why my father goes so early in the morning in the field,” said young Ernest.  I was sitting side by side on the step talking with him.  His father was tilling the field for planting waiting on rain.  By the time it is 11:30 in the morning, no farmer would not be able to throw the hoe and turn the land as a result of the labor they have already put in.  It is upwards to 85 F and they really earn their keep by the sweat of their brows.  If they start in the morning at about 5:00am, by midday there is no possible way to continue.  With the ox-plow, five times as much work can be done.  Lambi Fund adds a credit fund with every ox-plow project.  Credit funds allow the farmers to start with an initial investment to purchase the ox-plow service and maximize its production and thus their profit.  Within the first harvest they can repay their loans and build their capacity to supply the local markets.  The availability of the ox-plow service does not increase production; it is the capacity of the farmer to purchase the service that makes the difference.  

Sustainable agriculture as a priority of the Lambi Fund of Haiti assures that production is increasing and continues with the interest that returns to the organizations.  

Thank you for your generous contribution that has made the ox-plow credit fund available for farmers in rural area Haiti. 

Happy Holidays!

Before access to the ox-plows...
Before access to the ox-plows...
Awesome results!
Awesome results!

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Today's cry is for food security and sovereignty in Haiti. With the level of poverty and the climactic events that engender greater risk to the resilience of the population, it is a critical element in the growth of the population yet often spoken about studied yet not a high priority for the administrations.  They do little to address the urgency and speak of development as an isolated series of numbers in indices and scales.  Although we understand the systemic approach necessary to address Haiti’s "essentially agriculture based economy", we have yet to realize as a people a partnership to structure change among the sectors controlling the economy including the international community whose role over the years has magnified with the installation of the MINUSTAH, the United Nations Forces of Peace, in a country without war.

It is essential that with 80% of the labor force unemployed, maintaining rural farmers in productive work to grow food and expand their production remains a priority.  The Lambi Fund has partnered with MOPDAD, the Peasant Movement for the Development of Delann, whose new integrated project has three components to enhance food production:

  1. The irrigation component uses pumps to alternate watering 30 acres of land belonging to local farmers using the riverbed to pump uphill to maintain the productivity of the soil until the harvest.  
  2. Second, there is availability for small loans to expand the acreage for the planters ($920,000.00 HTG) and a separate small loan fund for women members ($700,000.00 Haitian gourdes-HTG) who have established their small enterprises selling basic necessity items based on the season.
  3. A mill was built to avail transformation of corn and millet and is available to members and non- members.

The food production of MOPDAD has supported 350 rural farmers in the Delann area. There were 175 loans for men and 175 loans for women enterprises approved by the organization’s management team ranging from $5,000 to $15,000 (HTG) and thus far reimbursed at 80%.  The 2% interest grows the fund and supports the organization in its expenses.  During the last month the mill generated the transformation of 36,696 pounds of cornmeal and 10,332 pounds of millet for cereal and local consumption. 

The increase in acreage, the relative income and revenue for individual farmers and enterprise builders are great motivators keeping farmers from migrating to cities where life is even tougher with high unemployment and an increasing cost of living.

These projects supported initially through the generosity of many donors, like yourself, are sustainable and within the coming year will be developing greater numbers of small enterprises and increase acreage of local production in spite of a long term national plan touching every farmer in Haiti.

Thanks for your support and keeping abreast of the progress rural peasants in Haiti are making in the face of grave challenges.

Waiting to have their grains milled
Waiting to have their grains milled
MOPDAD
MOPDAD's irrigation pump

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The work of the Lambi Fund, since its inception, is essentially to support the national food production.Today It is an integrative process that support grassroot organizations to develop agricultural entrants, build their tool banks and seeds; to work their plots of land. The priority projects that result in maximization of agricultural output are the Oxplow that increase the acreage tilled for planting  and the Credit for planters that accompanies the Oxplow project. the funds, at an interest rate of 2%, facilitates planters to pay for the service of plowing at the initial stages. All revenues from the service increases the capacity of the organization to care for the community.  Equally valuable are the mills that has been installed with grassroots managers and producers to transform the harvest into the basic staples for daily food consumption and caloric intake.  Rice, cornmeal, Maize and millet are the three major food staples that supplies the largest caloric intake in the daily meals of the 70% of Haitian people in the rural area.

With longer droughts and shorter rainy seasons, it is critical that preparing the acreage for planting is timely and more production for stockage is critical to food security.  Looking at the recent projects that usually takes 24 months to reach sustainable levels, we partner with the following organization to construct mills and develop ox-plowing services:  

 

Oxplow and credit funds                                                      Mills

Peasant movement of Lafreziliere (MPL)                    ODRO:  Corn, maize, millet
OPBK                                                                        OBS:  Corn, maize
GWOFAMIL                                                               KFTK-NW:  Rice
UPLADEP                                                                  AJSDC:  Rice, millet
                                                                                 ACHVRO:  Sugar Cane
                                                                                 MOPDAD:  Rice

Imagine that the Ox plow allows the farmer to till 20 times faster than with a man with a hoe!.  But not every farmer can afford two oxen and a plow, the feed and the repairs.  The organization that develop this service is an invaluable asset to the whole community of farmers in its immediate surroundings.  

AJSDC, Saint Martin Youth Association for Community Development in Lartibonite in Haiti has managed their mill for the last two years.  Between June and December 2013 they transformed 144,785 pounds of corn and millet, having received 2343 visits, and had revenue totalling 207,322 Haitian Gourdes (HTG).  They are not only feeding the people of Saint Martin but the community dwellers are benefitting in extraordinary ways:  such as having sufficient revenue or income to send their children to school and to provide the basic care like medical services for their children.  Were there not to have developped this service, women and girls would still be carrying their harvest 6 hours away to stand in line waiting for service, not guaranteed at times.  Girls will lose school days and women will be sleeping away from home waiting for a service to mill and to take to the market.  Today it is all dne in one day.

Together with sustainable plans, appropriate education, capacity building for the long term, in respectful partnership with rural haitian farmers, we can support the local market and feed thepeopleof our community.

 

 

 

 

 

 

ox plow faster than hoe
ox plow faster than hoe
food for thoughts
food for thoughts
ox plow faster than hoe
ox plow faster than hoe

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Lambi Fund’s Sustainable Development program aims to lay the foundation for organizations to increase food security in their communities and income for their rural members’ families. Organizasyon Peyizan Moje (OPMO) wants to provide its 150 members (100 men and 50 women) with resources that will make the soil more productive and increase their agricultural outputs.  The erratic rainfall in the area has made it difficult for OPMO members to have a consistent source of food and income for their families.   Therefore, OPMO approached Lambi Fund with a project proposal that included a request for four three-inch mobile irrigation pumps and 150,000 Haitian gourdes (HTG) to create the agricultural credit fund.  Additionally, OPMO requested technical assistance to build a project framework and learn about mobile pump operations and credit fund management.

 On March 15, 2013, Lambi Fund staff and 31 members of OPMO (nine Executive Committee members and 22 local delegates) convened to officially launch the irrigation and credit fund project.  In a formal ceremony, participants reiterated the intentions of the project, and the needs that it is aimed at addressing.  OPMO members expressed hope that the project will have impacts in the wider community, beyond the organization and its members.

 In the first six months of the project, OPMO has completed the following activities:

  •  OPMO established a 150,000 HTG agricultural credit fund and disbursed loans, each for 5,000 HTG, to 30 members to make investments in their farms.
  • Borrowers are ahead of schedule in repaying their loans due to a highly productive agricultural season.
  • Thirty-one OPMO members are in project committee positions, taking responsibility for project activities.
  • The organization has four mobile irrigation pumps that has stabilized access to water for its members during the dry season that began in late fall.

Recognizing that sustainable agriculture is an essential element in the development of rural Haiti, The Lambi Fund will work closely with members of OPMO during the next 24 months.  We will provide, training education, capacity building for the organization and will jointly work on developping strategies to meet the recurrent challenges of climate change and lack of national infrastructure support.  

Joseph "Tidjo" Dorsainvil
Joseph "Tidjo" Dorsainvil

Joseph "Tidj"” Dorsainvil is a Field Monitor for the Lambi Fund of Haiti in the Artibonite region of Haiti. For 15 years, he has been a passionate steward of Lambi Fund's work. Here, Sarah Leavitt sat down with Tidjo to talk about his work, the organizations we partner with and the current state of Haiti.

What is your role within Lambi Fund?

The first thing that we [myself and the Program Directors] do is investigate the [potential] projects after organizations send the proposals to Lambi Fund. Second, I do follow-up and monitor the projects and support the organizations in their efforts so that the project can be successful.

What makes your work difficult?

My work is difficult because the projects are so spread out across the region and some of them are difficult to get to. Depending on the weather, rain and water block the road and if the roads aren't good, we can't get to where we need to go. Also, the political state of the country [makes things difficult] because a lot of times politics and different situations are going on that make it so that we cannot travel to where we need to go to do follow-up on projects.

Can you tell me a story about a certain organization or project that was having problems getting off the ground and what was done to help them along?

There was an organization named AFKB (the Association of Peasants of Katò Bayonè). They had a grain mill project. It was a strong organization, but it didn't necessarily meet all of Lambi Fund's criteria.

Instead of it being an organization, it was more of a cooperative. Yet because the project was such a good project and it was a strong project to support, even though it took us a while, we took the time to work with the organization and to form it as an organization. It took us a lot of time to do that, to restructure AFKB and to provide training so that they could become a strong organization.

Can you clarify what the difference between an organization and a cooperative would be?

An organization is a group of people in a specific area that looks at all of their problems andcarries them on their back. They try to address all of the community's issues—they look at social, political, economic and all other types of issues a community might suffer from and try to address them. A cooperative's primary goal, [on the other hand] is the economic component.

What is one of the most rewarding projects you've worked on or one of the biggest changes you have seen in a community as a result of a partnership with Lambi Fund?

I would say APS. It was a grain mill project and one of the first projects that Lambi Fund worked on. If you look at it up until now, over 14 years or so, you can look at their bookkeeping and their records are flawless. Even though we don't actively work with them anymore and we don't monitor them anymore, they still stay right on top of their game and still do everything so flawlessly.

They've advanced so much and have used their profits to benefit the organization. APS even bought a truck [with their profits] to transport the women back and forth to sell their grains. The mill motor at one point broke down. They didn't wait for help to get another motor. They were able to buy another motor to replace the one that was broken.

What would you say, in your opinion, are the current priorities of what Lambi Fund should be working on today?

Right now, I think that there are three projects that are very important to the [Haitian] peasants. The first or number one most important, are the agricultural projects. The grain mills, irrigation pumps to get water, the plantain and coffee farms, and anything that has to do with agriculture is most important for providing food for the peasants.

The next one I would say is the animal husbandry projects. Haitians do not have a lot of means to take care of animals themselves. These animal husbandry projects are very important because it provides members with a way to make a little bit of money to send their children to school and to feed their families.

The last priority I would say are the community credit funds. This allows the female merchants to not get beat over the head by the bigger organizations or bigger financial institutions when they need to borrow money. It helps them to continue on with their work, to continue on with their sales and merchandising, and to make some profits so that they can continue to make a better life for themselves.

Is there a story that you feel shows an impact that we don't necessarily think of when we talk about our projects?

I would say the sugarcane mills. These are very important because before, it used to be animals that farmers would use to breakdown the sugar-cane. The time that they used to spend overnight, husbands and wives boiling the syrup and going through the whole process to transform it into syrup, they don't waste that time anymore.

Things that used to take five days to do can now be done in a couple hours' time. This is something that we don't really see on a regular basis. Another thing with the sugarcane mills that people don't necessarily realize is the safety aspect.

With ACHVRO and the benefits they have explained, is that when it used to be late and it took so much time to use the wooden mills, when they were feeding the cane into the machines, sometimes if they were too tired their fingers would get caught. Once their fingers got caught, their arm would go right into it. So, it hasn't only diminished the amount of time that people would spend [making syrup], it is also a much safer way to go and it has lowered the number of accidents.

Members also make more money and in making more money, they can plant more and produce more sugarcane. Of course, this making more money does not only help their pockets, but it helps the organization to fund other projects that they may need to [or want to do] in the future.

I am hoping that you can try and clarify something. A lot of people see Lambi Fund's projects and think it is as simple as buying a goat or building a grain mill, but there is an essential part of our work where an organization is required.

Can you talk about why this is the case?

What is good about working with organizations and what is important, is that organizations are a group of people that have gotten together and are already members of a group. They have already identified what their issues are and what their solutions could be.

Most of the time, organizations just don't have the technical or financial capacity to make these projects a reality. So, by the time organizations come to Lambi Fund, they're really just asking for that financial backing and technical support. Of course, we throw into this, monitoring and follow-up as well. Working with groups makes it easier to follow-up and see what the results of the project are too.

If we were just to fund individuals who made a request for money, after that person gets their money and they do what they have got to do, then you'll probably never see that person again. There is no follow-up. There is no way for us to test the feasibility, to test the potential success a project might have.

Can you talk about what makes Lambi Fund different from big NGO's? What sets us apart?

The difference or the main difference, between Lambi Fund and the larger NGO's is that the large nonprofits come in and identify what they think the problems are and decide in what way they will intervene.

They might look and say, this person needs a house—we'll build a house. Or they might look and say this region needs water, let us find a source of water and give them some clean water. But Lambi Fund doesn't work that way. It is the people in a community that identify and prioritize their problems. [NGO's] come to do something that they decide is good for the people, but it might not be the highest priority for that community.

The difference with Lambi Fund is that the organizations have identified their own problems and have cometo us. We are not just stepping in and intervening and saying that this is what we think the problem is, because half the time what NGO's think the problem is, isn't the bigger problem for that person or community.

Any last comments?

Within the way that Lambi Fund works as well, and another important aspect of organizations coming up with the projects and identifying their problems, is the fact that members do the work themselves. They have identified the problem, and while Lambi Fund accompanies the organizations in reaching their goals, they are the ones that execute it—it is not Lambi Fund that does the work. The people know that they are the ones who have put their blood and sweat into it… and they have a vested interest in assuring that the project is completed and that it succeeds.

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Organization

Lambi Fund of Haiti

Washington, DC, United States
http://www.lambifund.org

Project Leader

Marie Marthe Saint Cyr

Executive Director
Washington, DC Haiti

Where is this project located?