Tree Currency story continued...
Andre’s family and friends have been given an opportunity that few in his country have had. He will be part of a new agroforestry initiative called the “Tree Currency Program”. With the help of an agronomist, he will learn how to grow and plant trees. He’ll also learn how to increase farm produce in soil that has become depleted over the years. It will be a source of food and money for his family. Follow his story over the next five years as his dream becomes a reality.
Why Agroforestry Drives Us
Haiti is the most deforested country in the Western Hemisphere. There is no
regular source of energy. Haitian farmers must cut down trees to cook their food and make charcoal, a cash crop.
Farming methods in the mountain villages have not changed in generations, leading to poor soil, water runoff and reduced crop yields. Crop yields in Haiti are about 30% of the US.
Many reforestation programs pay farmers to plant trees. As, life goes back to normal, the trees grow, they are once again cut for charcoal, nothing changes.
About ten years ago, the Small Holders Farmers Alliance (SFA) developed a unique program that teaches farmers how to manage and plant the trees. In return, farmers receive education, seeds and farming tools.This improves their crop yields. This program is currently being used successfully in about ten northern Haiti communities.
In late 2022, a group of SFA Agronomists visited several communities surrounding Cotes-de-Fer to assess the suitability and interest in the Tree Currency Program in those areas. The suitability of the land was encouraging and the farmer interest high. There was ample space to plant trees. The program required a farmer to donate his land for a nursery, so there had to be commitment.
The mountain community of Morne Blanc was chosen for the project. The program was designed to keep the family unit together so one adult does not have to leave to find work. About 400 farmer families are expected to participate.
Funding has been obtained and the project began July 2023.
It will take five years for the program to be fully implemented. After that, the program will be fully self-sustaining and the lives of the farmers greatly improved. A full-time Agronomist was assigned to the project and will live on site during the program to provide assistance and education. The farmers who wish to participate are being registered. Materials and resources have been assembled.
Special types of trees will be planted that can be pruned rather than being cut down to make charcoal. Currently, charcoal is their only cash crop.
By the end of 2024, the farmers will have planted at least 15,000 trees. That number will only grow. A seed bank will also be established as part of the program to assure a steady supply of seeds for the future.