Amid record-high worldwide demand for premium coffee, farmers throughout Haiti are working to revive a once-rich coffee industry that had been hurt for years by deforestation and political chaos.
According to a Miami Herald report, poverty and slumping coffee prices had for years caused many farmers to chop trees and invest in cash crops, but the combination of demand for premium beans — especially in Europe and Asia — along with some strategic government-led investment, are helping put Haitian coffee back on the map.
“We have a demand that we can never satisfy,” Robinson Nelson, a local coffee grower and manager of COOPCAB, a cooperative in Haiti’s Thiotte region told the paper. COOPCAB, which supports more than 5,000 farmers in shade-rich southeastern Haiti, recently benefited from $150,000 from the Clinton Bush Haiti fund.
Fritz Francois, COOPCAB’s president, told the paper that the mindset among farmers has changed: “It is almost impossible to find someone today in Thiotte cutting down a tree to make charcoal. Today, because coffee has a price, the farmers are motivated and they are leaving the trees because to cultivate coffee you need shade.’’
Many people familiar with Haiti’s history as a coffee producer, however, remain skeptical, especially as supply chains will need to be built or rebuilt to benefit farmers as well as promote quality beans.
“Haitian farmers have lost the long-term vision,’’ Stephan Jean-Pierre, a long-time consultant and exporter for Haitian coffee, told the Herald. “They live on a day-to-day basis, and waiting five years for a coffee tree to produce cherries is too long. They are mining whatever trees there are today until they run out.”
The full story: Miami Herald