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We are tackling poverty and malnutrition, starting at the root.
At Vetiver Solutions, we understand.
We understand that farmers in Haiti have the knowledge, but not the resources to practice sustainable farming. While the farmers know the importance of maintaining trees to protect the health of their land, the trees can offer a source of quick cash when families are faced with immediate needs. Trees can be cut for charcoal production and forest areas can be cleared to provide extra farmland. For those living in poverty, sacrificing any income could lead to severe malnutrition. Our company began by asking one simple question:
What if we could make sustainable farming profitable in both the short- and long-term?
Due to poverty in rural Haiti, deforestation for rapid income has left the soil vulnerable to common threats, like heavy rains and sun, as well as natural disasters. Without decomposing leaves and stabilizing root networks, the soil deteriorates and erosion accelerates — conditions that prevent farmers from producing enough food.
Since 2016, Vetiver Solutions has collaborated with farmers in Moreau, Haiti to create innovative solutions for soil erosion and deforestation. We launched our company after developing an innovative way to turn vetiver grass into a cash crop. When planted along roads and farm fields, the vetiver grass grows deep roots that stabilize and protect soil from harsh conditions in areas without trees. We are continuing to develop our vetiver fiber products, and hope to debut them in 2020.
In January 2019, collaboration between Vetiver Solutions and our partner farmers led us to add bee products into our business model. Several enterprising farmers recognized the benefits of beekeeping as a source of supplemental income that also promotes pollination of their crops and trees. Combined with planting vetiver grass, promoting sustainable beekeeping expands our efforts to combat soil erosion and deforestation.
Beekeeping in Haiti is providing an incentive to protect the trees that were previously being cut down for quick cash. The bees produce high quality honey and beeswax, which the farmers are able to sell for profit in Haiti — or partner with Vetiver Solutions to sell in the United States. Prioritizing the needs and solutions of our farmers, Vetiver Solutions yields ways to make sustainable farming profitable while investing in the protection of Haiti’s natural ecosystems.
Sowing Roots in Moreau, Haiti
Ernest is a 58-year-old farmer in Haiti who owns two acres of land in the rural village of Moreau. Each morning, Ernest wakes up at 6 a.m. to tend to his fields and the few livestock he still owns. Ten years ago he was able to produce enough food for his entire extended family, yet now he is struggling to produce enough even for himself and his kids. When asked why this is happening, he says “Te’a fatige” or “The earth is tired.”
Ernest explains that he knows how to practice sustainable farming, but has not been able to afford the investment until he partnered with Vetiver Solutions. Now, Ernest earns additional income by planting vetiver grass along his crops. The vetiver hedges prevent runoff and soil erosion, helping restore the soil and the land’s ability to yield crops.
Every six months, he harvests the vetiver shoots and Vetiver Solutions purchases a predetermined amount. By investing in the vetiver from Ernest and other farmers in Moreau, Vetiver Solutions in incentivizing farmers to keep vetiver in place while also combating the effects of deforestation.
Pollination with Purpose
Citadel is the head of the Farmers’ Association in Moreau, Haiti. He works with farmers like Ernest to ensure that the community has the food and resources it needs to survive. He also gathers dozens of farmers at the church in Moreau on the tenth of every month to discuss their needs, progress, and plans.
Citadel’s house is situated on the other side of the river from the church and school in the village, where most community meetings take place. The rocky climb from the river to his house is steep, but has a beautiful view of the lush mountains that encircle Moreau. There, he tends to his own crops — and his growing population of honeybees, which is not at nearly 20 hives. When we visited with Citadel in January 2019, he was excited to share that his bees were thriving by pollinating the trees around his house and the river, and produced rich honey and beeswax.
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