The death toll in Haiti is currently estimated at between 500 to 1,300 people following the October 4th landfall of Hurricane Matthew — the most severe to affect the region in more than half a century.
While much of the international media attention has been focused on the Tiburon Peninsula, which encompasses all of Haiti’s Southern coast, the devastation to cropland throughout Haiti has been equally merciless. Relief efforts to this point have been largely focused on emergency and crisis response, though more about the depth of the agricultural destruction — both for cash crops such as coffee and cacao, as well as food crops — is coming to light.
Coffee has historically been a primary crop for Haiti — the sovereign state has at times been one of the world’s largest producers — although the sector’s struggles in recent years have followed widespread deforestation, lack of infrastructure and market access. Numerous individual organizations locally and abroad have been working tirelessly to help reestablish Haitian coffee, though anecdotal evidence to this point suggests that much of that progress may have been washed away through the hurricane.
But, you can help. In coffee, at least two U.S. organizations are actively trying to raise money that directly supports coffee and some of the people who grow it in Haiti.
Miami’s Panther Coffee is organizing a Haiti Relief Fundraiser at its NW Second Ave. location this Saturday, Oct. 22, at 7 p.m., that will benefit the immediate needs of the COCANO Cooperative in Northwest Haiti, with whom Panther has been actively working with for several years to assist in quality development and specialty market access. Here’s more straight from Panther on that event:
The NW region of Haiti, home to Panther’s partners in the COCANO coffee cooperative, experienced severe destruction on Oct .4 when Hurricane Matthew ripped through the SE and NW tip of the country. For the first time we are reaching out to our partners and friends to join us in fundraising. This is about empowerment, to help an affected community get back on their feet. We will be hosting an auction with your chance to win awesome prizes donated from your favorite locals and ALL the proceeds will be given to our partners at St Thomas University, who are working directly with their partners in NW Haiti to restore the community.
In addition to the live event, donations can be made through the STU Haiti Relief portal.
The nonprofit Singing Rooster — which has been working in Haiti for years to help develop and promote a more sustainable coffee infrastructure while working directly with coffee farmers, cacao farmers and Haitian artists, has launched a relief effort of its own.
From Singing Rooster:
Hurricane Matthew was devastating for our farmer partners — in both coffee and cacao. Moreover, townspeople lost valuable food crops that sustains livelihoods: mango, avocado & citrus trees. Help us raise $10,000 for a seedling nursery near Camp Perrin — a small village on a hillside near Les Cayes that suffered extreme loss.
One hundred percent of donations will support the seedling nursery, which will be located in one of the hardest-hit regions in Southwest Haiti. More information is available here.