CROSSING OVER FROM POVERTY TO PROSPERITY
EcoWorks International’s Talia Farms, Haiti, is a comprehensive socio-economic program to break the cycle of poverty among small-scale, subsistence farmers. When fully operational, the program will work with 2,000 farming families, or 10,000 individuals. It supports farmers through training and a full array of services to help grow the regional economy and the well-being of the communities.
Talia Farms has two essential parts:
- Talia Farms Cooperatives is responsible for improving crop production and increasing farmers’ income, promoting entrepreneurship, providing access to healthcare, education and environmental remediation, conservation and stewardship, such as access to water and soil rehabilitation.
- Talia Farms Organics is responsible for marketing, sales, product transformation and branding.
The objective is to help our partner communities to reach economic autonomy, build stronger community and lead in environmental security.
TALIA FARMS COOPERATIVES:
Agricultural Production, Entrepreneurship,
When asked, local farmers unanimously chose to work on their own land – no matter how hard it is for them to earn a living wage – rather than work on someone else’s farm. Thus, central to Talia Farms are the five agricultural cooperatives, called Talia Farms Cooperatives (TFC). Each cooperative will have 400 members; totaling 2,000 members, and will directly benefit 10,000 individuals (five individuals comprise an average Haitian family). We are convinced that 10,000 individuals whose lives have significantly improved will positively impact the whole local economy.
To start, Talia Farms will produce organic vegetables, such as carrots, onions, hot, green and red peppers, beans and plantains. And, although each farmer has only a small plot of land, altogether they will form an impressive agricultural estate of more than 400 hectares, which will produce annually over 22,000 metric tons of organic vegetables, enough to become competitive on the domestic and export markets.
Currently, EWI works with existing local farmers’ organizations to provide the first tier of support to improve yields and promote concepts of market demand and supply; managing inventory, think of their farm as a business.
Joining a well-structured cooperative requires rigor and discipline and the ability to plan for the long-term. These are the ultimate objectives but to get there, the collaborative decision was to adopt a step-by-step approach. The immediate challenges we focus on are to improve the crops’ quality and quantity, solve the pressing problem of lack of water for irrigation, and start implementing the marketing strategy.
Later, the existing farmers’ organizations will integrate the Talia Farms Cooperatives. This will help solidify the farmers into a 2,000 strong cooperative structure they will own and run and which will have buying power. It will provide a solid and permanent support structure and essential services, will give farmers a strong voice at the regional and national level so they can influence regional and national agricultural policies.
Later, TFC will grow other crops to diversify its production and expand its markets. Talia Farms is a scalable program.
A Phased Implementation Approach
The farmers we work with need time to adjust to the new ways of functioning. To serve them better, Talia Farms and farmers’ leadership adopted a phased approach. Phase One consists of different steps that will progressively enable farmers to test new methods and see what works for them. It will also introduce increasingly more structured approaches of working together and be mutually supportive. When they feel ready, they will integrate their respective cooperatives which have well-structured support programs and a disciplined crop production that is responsive to markets.
The projected time-frame for Phase One is 12 to 18 months. The implementation process started in November 2016.
The entrepreneurship program has two objectives:
- To help participating farmers transition into becoming agro-entrepreneurs, to think of their farm as a business which needs to be well managed to be profitable. In addition to agricultural training, farmers will participate in workshops on business planning, market forces, managing inventory and generating profits so they can streamline their production costs and increase their income.
- EWI will also establish an entrepreneurship program to create new businesses in other sectors. This will help diversify and strengthen the local economy, create more jobs and encourage young people to stay in the region instead of migrating to the capital.
Community Development- Quality of Life
No economic growth program can succeed without an equally strong commitment to community development. Talia Farms’ Community Development program aims to create access to healthcare, education, literacy among adults, inclusion, potable and irrigation water, and environmental remediation and stewardship. Particular attention is given to women’s needs and equality, and to youth integration.
Melding economic growth and community development represents a comprehensive approach to a sustainable poverty alleviation program.
A Public / Private Partnership
EcoWorks International is establishing a for-profit entity to serve its program – because there is much to gain by bringing together the different skill sets and experiences the two sectors offer to combat poverty and make Talia Farms a success. Ending deeply entrenched poverty is a formidable challenge and we must use all available tools to realize the principal goal: to create viable and sustainable opportunities for farming families to lift themselves out of poverty.
This combination makes Talia Farms a public /private partnership (PPP) – comprising the nonprofit Talia Farms Cooperatives (TFC), and the for-profit Talia Farms Organics (TFO). EWI majority ownership of Talia Farms Organics will ensure that the company’s social responsibility mandate is maintained permanently.
Talia Farms Cooperatives is best suited to support farmers in increasing their productivity, capacities and quality of produce; to establish and run the cooperatives until such time when farmers’ leadership is ready to assume full responsibility, and members are ready to become owners of the cooperatives.
TFC is also experienced in establishing vital community service programs such as access to healthcare, education, literacy, entrepreneurship, women equality, youth integration and environmental remediation and stewardship.
Talia Farms Organics is best suited for the commercialization of crops grown by coop members; to establish and run the processing center; ensure customer service; and build the brand. Its focus is to be profitable, competitive and help manage the profit sharing programs.
- 2,000 farming families are employed and able to rise above the poverty line; additional 50 new jobs are created to run both entities
- 22,000 metric tons of organic vegetables are produced annually which alleviates local food shortages and decreases imports
- Farmers own and run their cooperatives; are empowered to become self-reliant and self-directed; are better trained and become agro-entrepreneurs
- Communities benefit from a better quality of life by having access to healthcare, education and environmental remediation and stewardship
- Talia Farms is the regional economic growth engine
Implemented and Current Talia Farms Projects
Talia Farms’ community development programs were launched in 2015
- EWI’s original long-term planning was interrupted by the 2010 earthquake. Response to the devastating quake took three years to complete.
- EWI resumed its research and development of Talia Farms and completed its business plan in December 2015.
- Talia Farms completed its “Women’s Voice and Choices”, a one-year literacy course started in May 2015 for rural women. Forty women graduated in June 2016.
- In December 2016, Talia Farms launched “Feed-a-Child, a treatment program for malnourished children and pregnant women.
- Talia Farms works with young people to help them start their own organization and work together on their goal to establish a trade school.
- Due to crop destruction caused by hurricane Matthew, local leaders asked EWI to advance our campaign of recruiting future cooperative members to November 2016 instead of May 2017; which we did. To date, several sections of the Commune of Ganthier joined and Talia Farms will reach its first milestone of 100 hectares under agricultural production in February or early March 2017, six to eight months earlier than projected.
- EWI responded to Hurricane Matthew’s destruction by sponsoring a medical team, sending thousands of dollars’ worth of medicine, and providing roof tiles to repair homes. It will also provide goats as part of re-starting agricultural production. Mainly, it is accelerating its agricultural preparedness and production program to help in the economic recovery process. This recovery project fits within the broader Talia Farms program.
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