Haiti Cotton Project: Reintroducing Sustainable Cotton to Haiti
Cotton was once Haiti’s fourth largest agricultural export, until the collapse of the country’s local cotton industry in the late 1980s. Following the well received Haiti Cotton Study I conducted in 2016, cotton is now reintroduced as an anchor crop to help revitalize farming, boost the economy and contribute to environmental restoration in Haiti. The program is supported by shoe and apparel company Timberland and VANS shoe company, both of which are committed to becoming clients of the cooperative, subject to quality and price, once cotton output has achieved sufficient volume (Timberland has in principle committed to purchasing up to one third of its annual global cotton purchase from Haiti).
Interestingly, this time around the cotton will be ‘tree-financed’: smallholder farmers will plant trees to earn cotton seed, agricultural training and tools. Within 5 years, the net impact is projected to be 34,000 farmers (husband and wife working together on 17,000 farms) united as owner-operators of a network of new social businesses that will more than double their current income and result in a minimum of 25 million trees being planted. This new model will also increase the yields of food crops grown for local consumption and provide targeted support to empower women farmers through micro loans, business training and leadership opportunities.
Cotton field trials started in August 2017, using organic varieties that were acquired from Brazil, India and the US. A first harvest of sustainably grown cotton took place in early 2018 and the first batches of cotton lint from this harvest are currently being tested by the quality control department at the Timberland HQ. Pending successful results from this quality control, the program will be scaled up later in 2018. Ongoing technical expertise is provided among others by the Swiss-based Research Institute of Organic Agriculture (FiBL), a global leader in the field of organic agriculture research.
Where We’re At
The first cotton field trials have been conducted on a 2 hectare site located near the Haitian town of Gonaives, in the central Artibonite region of Haiti. The vision is for the project to eventually expand throughout Haiti.
Haiti Field Trials Site
Location of the SFA’s first cotton field trials in Haiti.
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