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Friday
Dec152017

Haitian Farmers Get Early Christmas Gift That Keeps on Giving

Livestock earned with tree currency arrive near the southern Haitian community of Laborde.

Christmas came early for a group of farmers in southern Haiti with the arrival earlier this month of 22 goats, 9 cows and 5 bulls. The entire community greeted the livestock with much cheering, clapping and more than a few tears of joy. The delivery represented a major milestone in recovering from the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew in October of 2016.

What made this occasion unusual was that the animals had been purchased using tree currency. Haiti is one of the first places in the world where this concept is being tested. Some 800 farm families in the Laborde area along Haiti's south coast built and operate 4 nurseries that have turned out tens of thousands of trees over the past year. This has earned them farm credits that were cashed in for crop seeds, hand tools and agricultural training. And while these things were key to getting farms in the area back up and running, a few months ago they asked if there were enough credits saved up to replace the livestock lost to Hurricane Matthew. Suffice to say the voice of skeptics had prevailed up to the moment the animals actually showed up!
 
The Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) developed this tree currency model as a way to improve agricultural yields and profits in Haiti, while at the same time contributing to much needed reforestation. The particular application of the SFA model in the Laborde area is supported by Project Medishare, which also implements mobile health clinics for the farming community there.
 
This Christmas gift of livestock is one that will keep on giving for generations. Each farmer receiving a cow or goat does not own the animal until an offspring has been given to another farmer. The second farmer, in turn, will own their animal only after an offspring has been passed on to a third farmer. And it keeps going until the whole community benefits.

 

 

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