Every cup of coffee or hot chocolate is made up of hundreds of coffee or cocoa beans that travel thousands of miles and undergo harvest, drying, fermentation, roasting, pressing, packaging, and export before reaching our mugs. Throughout this entire process, there are many points where challenges can disrupt the entire supply chain—from something as immense as a pandemic to something as local as a rain cloud passing over beans that need to dry under the Haitian sun.
CaribBrew, a USAID Diaspora Partnership Accelerator winner, has a mission to strengthen this supply chain and bring economic stability to Haiti’s agribusiness sector, and they do so by focusing first on the foundation of the industry: the farmers.
In the first few months of 2023, CaribBrew hosted training seminars for both current farmers and students at College GV Péniel who are considering agribusiness as a profession. Each session has been an opportunity to share strategies for resilience that protect the stability of the industry and, as a result, the well-being of farmers, too.
Teaching the farmers of tomorrow
Forty-five students (ages 12 to 15) at College GV Péniel in Aquin, Haiti, attended a multi-day agribusiness workshop with agronomist Jean Fritz Almond Dossous. The students learned about the skills needed to be successful in the industry, such as marketing and policy, but they also learned about potential threats, such as deforestation.
According to USAID’s factsheet on agroforestry in Haiti, “deforestation has led to flooding, dramatic rates of soil erosion, and subsequent declines in agricultural productivity.” Students learned that planting cacao trees is one way farmers can reduce the threat of erosion while also earning an income. On the final day of the workshop, the students had the opportunity to learn tree-planting techniques in the field.
Boosting skills for current farmers
There are an estimated 20,000 smallholder families already involved in the cacao industry in Haiti. As part of the DPA, training was also provided to 11 cacao farmers with the aim of boosting their resilience, to political, environmental, and economic disruptions. Session topics included supplies and equipment for planting, growing and harvesting cocoa, quality control for trees and beans, fermentation processes and marketing.
According to agronomist Germeus Brisley, the instructor for the multi-day workshop, the training served to “encourage farmers to plant more cacao trees, as there are many environmental and economic benefits. This training specifically helped cacao farmers to reduce their risks as they learned how to diversify their farms. They will improve their resilience to natural shocks and learn about quality control techniques.”
These sessions help current, and future farmers build the coffee and cacao industry within Haiti, but they also help the CaribBrew team deepen their direct relationship with local farmers. As a business that aims to “make an impact, one cup at a time,” their relationship with the producers is essential. In a recent round table discussion hosted by Miyamoto International and attended by CaribBrew, Luker Chocolate, and Haiti Renewal Alliance, CaribBrew was also able to swap success stories with like-minded representatives from USAID’s Cacao Effect program in Colombia and consider new ideas for assisting farmers with certification, funding and processing equipment that will further stabilize the supply chain and those who depend on it.
In Haiti, the idea of resilience is not reserved for disasters alone—these last few years have seen health, economic and political crises in addition to extreme weather.
USAID’s Diaspora Partnership Accelerator is a new model of humanitarian assistance that puts diaspora organizations in the driver’s seat to bring funding, skills, and solutions to their communities back home. CaribBrew is one of three winning organizations implementing resilience-building projects in Haiti.