Moving forward rebuilding agricultural cooperatives in Haiti!
Over 1400 agricultural producers are progressively returning to their activities and the living conditions of 110 Haitian families affected by the 2010 earthquake are continuing to improve thanks to the determination of local partners and follow-up efforts carried out by the SOCODEVI team.
Haiti is still reeling from last year’s catastrophe and SOCODEVI intervention has been focused initially on rebuilding infrastructure and the homes of the men and women farmers who are members of the COPAS and SOCOBELAM cooperatives. These two organizations are members of ASKOM, an association of market garden cooperatives.
The rebuilding effort could never have been accomplished without the support from fundraising by the SOCODEVI Foundation and a large contribution from CIDA (Canadian International Development Agency).
Progress being made despite the difficult conditions
“In the Séguin and Fort-Jacques regions, 110 families have been given access to the materials they need to repair or rebuild their homes damaged or destroyed by the earthquake. These materials, such as sheet metal, concrete, planks and beams were provided at the preferential rate of only 25 percent of the prevailing prices,” stated SOCODEVI project manager, Ginette Carré.
In Séguin construction work has started on a new warehouse for agricultural inputs which also includes a meeting room for the COPAS cooperative. Despite the slowdown in building due to the rainy season, the new building should be operational by early 2012.
“The circumstances are difficult. Economic activity is still highly unstable and rain over the last few months has slowed down the rebuilding efforts launched last February. During the rainy season there is also less time for farmers to repair their homes because they spend this time working in the fields. However, the people are very resourceful and they organize to overcome these kinds of problems,” added Ginette Carré.
Rebuilding for economic sustainability
During rebuilding, the fundamental goals of SOCODEVI activities during the project are to reestablish and improve the agricultural production capacity of the men and women farmers and boost ASKOM’s economic and organizational effectiveness.
“The economic consequences of the earthquake are still being felt today. An injection of working capital is needed to help recapitalize the agricultural cooperatives and the ASKOM network. The aim is to help the network achieve a level of activity that will enable it to earn a sustainable rate of return over time while delivering the best services to its members,” explained Ginette Carré. “To date, more than $150,000 has been allocated to the purchase of agricultural inputs, especially vegetable seeds. Recently, information and communication tools focused on best agricultural practices and practices that are less damaging to the environment have been developed and translated into Creole. They are currently being used by our team in the field,” she noted.
Improved management and a much strengthened organization for the ASKOM network are also part of the support program being run by SOCODEVI. According to Ginette Carré, capacity building among the cooperatives is the key to success.
“We are going to intensify the consulting services we provide to administrators while also supporting improved agricultural practices by farmers. The goal remains the same as other SOCODEVI projects: consolidate the cooperatives and lead them towards self-sufficiency and sustainability,” concluded Ginette Carré.