My name is Tharistan Pétion, i’m Haitian and agronomist specializing in tropical rural development at the University of Florence. Since 2012, I am responsible for the fair trade project existing between Caffè Pascucci Torrefazione SpA and the farmers of the Cocano cooperative in Haiti, a country that, five years after the terrible earthquake, is still facing a humanitarian crisis of exponential size. The presence of Pascucci next to Cocano farmers is a sign of hope, it helps them in some way to walk courageously on the road to progress. According to this philosophy, the company recently sent me to Haiti to identify problems and figure out how to support our brothers farmers with programs and projects.
I noted that the decrease of available agricultural land, soil erosion, inadequate investment in irrigation systems mean that agriculture, primary production sector, is subject to a steady decline. In recent years, traditional crops, such as coffee, have been replaced by subsistence food crops, such as potatoes, corn, bananas and legumes. This situation has affected a lot of the production, not excluding the devastating effect of the Roya disease on the few coffee plants remained.
In Haiti it says “behind a hill there is always another hill”. Indeed, it is switching from one problem to another. The lack of infrastructure forces the farmers, particularly those of Saint-Louis du Nord, to walk for 5-6 hours under a blazing sun to reach the plantations. In case of rain, the traffic is completely blocked by several rivers that separate the village from the countryside. It takes about two weeks to return to normality. It becomes clear that this fact has caused massive displacement of farmers to the cities.
Let us remember that “the leopard can not change its spots”. In fact, facing with this major problem of road link, the farmers choose to not remain with folded arms, so they start breaking rocks by hand to extract stones that then will be used for concrete in the construction of a bridge over a river , to facilitate their return to the roots: the countryside. Ignoring fatigue is unequivocally the first step of the work, the farmers carry on their head for kilometers heavy materials for the job, showing that only the pursuit of the impossible can lead to what is achievable. Men and women are busy to widen the paths allowing motorcycles to reach the most remote places.
*To learn more about the situation in Haiti, see the attached pdf