What comes to mind when you think of Haitian agricultural products? Perhaps rum, coffee and mangos which, truth be told, are very good. Haiti also produces very high quality cocoa although, like every export crop, it is held back from realizing its full potential by political instability and weak infrastructure. However, there is room for growth as Haitian cocoa holds its own against any of its other Caribbean and Latin America neighbours. The FECANNO cooperative along employees 4,000 farmers in Northern Haiti producing high quality cocoa. The full article by AFP journalist Amelia Baron follows.
Small Business Development
Haiti no longer receives discounted oil from an increasingly chaotic Venezuela - and all the good (cheaper oil) and bad (blatant corruption) that came with it. Much of Port au Prince is now getting by with only thee hours of electricity a day negatively affecting the economy, political stability, health care, and transportation. Increasing renewable energy may help Haiti in the long run, but in the short term, a more predictable and rational approach to petroleum imports is required. The full article by Associated Press journalist Ralph Thomassaint Joseph follows.
Over the years, I have been fortunate to know many strong Haitian women in Haiti and abroad. Below is a Forbes article by Peggy Yu about two Haitian-American women, one of whom started her own company and the other whom became a nurse. Each of them takes pride and strength in their Haitian roots - and nothing any politician says will change that. International Women's Day may have come and gone, but women like Guelmana Rochelin and Johaida Jean-Francois do important work in their communities every single day. Linked and copied below is the full article.
Haiti can be a rewarding but challenging tourism destination. Having an organization to help with logistics and orientation during the first visit can be helpful. The Kiskeya Guest House in Leogane, in addition to offering a nice place to stay outside of Port au Prince, now offers tours that celebrate Haiti's cultural traditions with an emphasis on Port au Prince, Jacmel and Cap Haitien. Haitian anthropologist Jean-Yves Blot an Professor Erold Saint-Louis will lead the various trips and Haitian Creole immersion programs. The agenda for their "Cultural and Mystical Haiti" tour follows. Note: The Kiskeya Guest House is associated with Kiskeya Aqua Ferme, a community initiative devoted to raising tilapia and growing cassava, hot peppers, and sweet potatos.
Below is a an article by Forbes writer Jo Piazza about Haitian-American entrepeneur Alexis Gallivan. With the management skills she acquired selling ice cream in Brooklyn, Gallivan decided to replicate her business in Haiti. Being an entrepeneur in Haiti is tough - it ranks 182nd out of 189 countries in the latest Worrd Bank "Ease of Doing Business" Report. To put that into perspective, Afghanistan is 177th. However, the Haitian diaspora is full of individuals with skills, resources, and the potential to create small businesses that provide training and livelihoods. Learn more at the Bel Rev website.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) announced this week that it is providing seven million dollars to Chemonics for a three year project to promote the use of Liquefied Petroleum Gas (LPG) and improve access to improved cook-stoves. Haiti's dependence on wood-based fuels for cooking has negatively affected the environment, agriculture, and health. If combined with economic development and national reforestation efforts, projects like this could help slow environmental degradation in Haiti.
Below is an invitation to a recycling conference that will be held at Wahoo Bay Beach Resort outside of Port au Prince July 23-24, 2011. If you have been to Port au Prince, then you have seen the plastic bottles clogging up drainage canals throughout the city. This is one of many vulnerabilities during the rainy season. Nationwide recycling would create jobs and clean up Haiti's ever growing cities. To learn more about Ramase Lajan (Gather the Money) visit Haiti Recycling website. Recycling plastic, rubble, and trash could become important components of Haiti’s reconstruction.
Port au Prince lost many of its architectural landmarks in the earthquake. One of these was the Iron Market. While the market was hot and crowded, it was also full of energy. One cannot help but miss it. Half of the market was for vendors selling Vodoun flags, paintings and other works of art. The other side was an entrepeneurial free for all where you could find just about anything. The CNN article below notes that, while it will take years, the Iron Market will be rebuilt. Hopefully it will be bigger, stronger, and safer.
The northwest is the poorest part of Haiti, long neglected by the Haitian government and the international community. Most Haitians have neve been here and comparatively little has been written about the region. I recently was able to visit both Port de Paix and the Ile de Tortue, a nearby island that was once a hotbed of piracy. Below is a summary of the area's past, present, and also its potential.
The Center for American Progress recently released an interesting and cautiously optimistic report (attached) on security in Haiti. For Haiti watchers, the background will no doubt be familiar but there is still much of interest. Below is an analysis of the recommendations. The historical and political cards have long been stacked against Haiti but there is now more evidence and more reasons to expect security will hold and improve. With a lot of work, a bit of luck, and the support of its friends, Haiti will continue to make progress….piti piti.