“When individuals join in a cooperative venture, the power generated far exceeds what they could have accomplished acting individually.” | Buckminster Fuller
American architect, systems theorist, author,
designer, inventor and futurist.
What it is: Talia Farms Cooperatives (TFC) is a program established by EWI to work alongside Haiti’s rural communities living in poverty. We chose to work in rural areas because this is where poverty is the greatest, and most people are forgotten. This, despite the fact that 25% of Haiti’s GDP comes from agriculture, 60% of the national workforce is employed in this sector, yet, more than 95% of farmers and their families live in absolute poverty.
Poverty, a multilayered problem, touches every aspect of a person’s life. To be effective, we adopted a multidisciplinary approach to eradicating poverty based on the specificity of each community we partner with on a long-term basis. Although our holistic approach emphasizes economic growth, we reinforce it by a social service infrastructure, environmental remediation, and inclusion.
Moreover, we take into account our partner-community’s existing skills, talents, capacity, achievements, expressed needs and aspirations so that, together, we develop an action plan that is responsive to their realities and acknowledges their assets and accomplishments. All decisions are taken together, all implementation is done in partnership.
This is how the Talia Farms Cooperatives Program came to be. It is specific to the Lake Azueï region and its population of 200,000. It further adapts to each community.
The Lake Azueï region starts 20 miles east of Port-au-Prince, and ends at the Dominican border. It includes four communes: Ganthier, Thomazeau, Fonds Verrettes and Cornillon. It comprises the plain of Cul-de-Sac, the country’s highest mountain range of la Selle, and its largest lake, Azueï. Currently, we work in the mountain village of Marre-Roseau perched at 6,000 feet in the La Selle mountains, in the Commune of Ganthier.
TFC program calls for opening five agricultural cooperatives to cover the region. Each cooperative will have 100 members, thus 500 members total, or 2,500 individuals. They will produce 5,000 tons of vegetables annually for the domestic and, eventually, for the export market.
The social service infrastructure may include access to healthcare, education, water, solar power, and better latrines. Each community choses its priorities.
Why a Cooperative? A cooperative is a business owned and controlled by farmers to serve farmers. It enables them to continue farming as independent producers, which was one of their non-negotiable criteria, while benefitting from goods and services they cannot access when working alone.
Most importantly, a cooperative is a place where farmers work together in a democratic fashion: one member – one vote, embark on a path to autonomy, determine their own future, and where their voices are amplified so they can be heard by policy-makers whose decisions impact their lives.
Update: EWI chose to partner with the community of Marre-Roseau to open the first of the five cooperatives.
For information on the Marre-Roseau Cooperative, click here.