I still remember looking at the farmers with hoes on their shoulders in the early morning hours, trying to get to their field to till the soil pending the first drop of rain to layer their first seeds. It is the begining of a new season. Today, with the help of many of you they are walking the oxen that will do ten times the labor for that day.
This is the rainy season so long awaited by so many. You see the drought is longer and the rainy season has shortened with the climatic events we are experiencing in Haiti. So it is even more important that the hoe is slowly being replaced by the oxen-pulled plow.
In advance of this season, we have added 13 plowers and 26 oxen to 4 organizations namely:
Union of Planters for the Development of Picot (UPLADEP)Society for development of NIppes (SADN)Peasant organization of Boula. (OPB)Group of Women Miracle of faith (GWOFAMIL)
They together serve their membership of 379 (189 men and 148 women) and their communities. In all they will till 30 acres and offer plowing services to 166 farmers outside of their membership. SADN had a waiting list from the last season, a line of farmers who will multiply their acreage this year and be able to harvest in time and relatively more produce they would have expected doing all the tilling by hand.
We are adding acre by acre to the production of food in Haiti and meeting the need for local organically grown food in the rural areas and their local markets.
You have helped make it possible and we hope you will be able to continue building this sense of security and productivity with your valuable support!
The Lambi Fund of Haiti is improving crop productivity in Boula. When I went to Boula, I saw many farmers working with their hoes turning the soil to prepare it for the planting season, coinciding with the rainy season. It seemed like an endless journey to get their acreage tilled. By the end of the day, the dent in the field was barely visible.
Boula sits in the third communal section of Tobek, in the heart of Southern Haiti. 26 men and 24 women had the vision to organize the Organization of the Peasants Of Boula (OPB) in 1975. Today, they are 230 members strong (94 men and 104 women) taking charge to educate, support, and expand the growth of the community. They identified their biggest problem as lack of access to ox-plows for the laborers of the land and this resulted in the low harvest thus diminishing the levelof revenue for the farming community.
The Lambi fund will work in partnership with the peasants of Boula to develop the ox-plow service that will serve all farmers in the region. We will provide 4 pairs of oxen and 3 plows. The project will also finance 50 farmers' loans to buy services to expand their cultivated surface to plant for the next harvest. The organization will also plant 20,000 trees for the replenishment of the environment as part of Lambi's required reforestion aspect.
In addition OPB will benefit from management training, nursery skills transfer and awareness of the environment.
Project cost : $33,680.00
Lambi Fund works with a bottom up approach in partenrship with rural farmers in Haiti to assure continued crop productivity, thus supporting food security and reducing poverty in rural Haiti.
The Lambi Fund continues to expand the capacity of rural farmers to bridge the gap by increasing production of Food as GWOFAMIL moves forward providing services to its mebership and the community to plow nearly double the field worked on previous year. Our new Oxplow project is the Society for Agricultural development of Nip (SADN) that has 45 members (20 women and 25 men). These farmers face the same major issue of low agricultural productivity and limited access to farming tools in their community. They have partnered with Lambi Fund to launch an ox-plow service for their members and the farmers in the community.
Lambi Fund is funding the purchase of six oxen and three plows and providing training on sustainable agriculture and organizational capacity building to the membership. This ox-plow service will provide members with access to oxen that can plow their fields affordably and efficiently.
, Lambi Fund staff and 38 SADN members gathered in Lazil to launch the project. Now in full implementation, 25 members have received three days of training to upgrade their managerial capacity; 25 have participated in three days of agroforrestry training to enhance their skills in farming.
Completed activities thus far:
Ox-Plow and Community Credit Fund: Gwoup Fanm Mirak Lafwa Group of Women Miracle of Faith (GWOFAMIL 52 members - 49 women, three men) – wants to allow the beneficiaries in Belvi, members of the organizations to increase their agricultural production and revenue through the establishment of an ox-plow program and a farmer’s credit fund. Tilling the land with ox-plows is much faster than using picks, machetes and hoes, and makes the land more productive.The Ox-plow project will allow members to receive small loans to facilitate access to rent the plow to till the land during the planting period without resorting to high interest through banks and other means. Low-interest (2%) credit funds allow farmers to plant and harvest quickly to produce good crops and increase income.
The Lambi Fund partenered with GWOFAMIL to obtain the oxplows. We provided training in ox-plow management and operation for six operators. Project management training for 30 membersincluded credit fund management, organizational capacity building to strengthen and improve the organizational structures, forage production and conservation. GWOFAMIL members also received training in project management and accountability as it pertains to agricultural and credit projects. provided.
Over 25 members of GWOFAMIL have tilled 5 acres each because they were able to access the loan at a low interest rate. The loans were repaid from the first phase. The fund grew from 187,500 gourdes to 217,500 gourdes (17% growth) and new loans were issued to 29 members on the first cycle and 25 more on the second cycle. Thus far reimbursement has been 100% as expected. The interest remains 2%. As they pay back the loan, other members will access new loans and the interest benefit all of them as the organization grows. The Storm “Sandy” resulted in major lost for the members and the region was damaged. They received support from the emergency response that Lambi Fund executed to assist the victims of Sandy. The delay created by the damage from the storm has resulted in a delay in completing the 20,000 new trees to be planted in the area. This is in progress. GWOFAMIL hired two persons to work in the nursery. The organizations increased its assets in the investment in tools and equipment that are utilized to continue their reforestation effort.
With the organization providing ox-plow at a low cost rental fee and creating access to a low interest credit option, the members have benefitted in two ways:, they have cultivated more land and produce more because of the time effectiveness of the ox-plow during the window of planting season, they have increased their potential for increased revenue, the way out of poverty.
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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