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Smallholder Farmers Alliance Blog


Exploring Cotton Potential in Puerto Rico

Yanna Muriel Mohan, Agricultural Manager of Visit Rico (left) with Timote Georges and Chris Kaput of the
Smallholder Farmers Alliance - Haiti, visit the the women-run textile cooperative "Cooperative Industrial
Creación de la Montaña" in Utuado, Puerto Rico.
GUEST WRITER > Chris Kaput, Smallholder Farmers Alliance

Last year a serendipitous meeting at the Textile Sustainability Conference resulted in an unplanned collaboration between our Haitian farmers and smallholders in Puerto Rico: a spontaneous and unsolicited effort to raise funds ended up helping providing over 100 Puerto Rican smallholder farmers with emergency financial support following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria.  

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Tropical Forests Suffered Near-Record Tree Losses in 2017

The western Amazon region of Brazil in September. Photo credit: Carl de Souza/Agence France-Presse
— Getty Images
REPRINT > Brad Plumer for The New York Times

In Brazil, forest fires set by farmers and ranchers to clear land for agriculture raged out of control last year, wiping out more than 3 million acres of trees as a severe drought gripped the region. Those losses undermined Brazil’s recent efforts to protect its rain forests.

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Haiti Cotton Presentation at Oxford

Hugh Locke and Atlanta McIlwraith making a joint presentation at University of Oxford on May 18, 2018.

How often is Haiti a topic of discussion at the University of Oxford? The answer is at least once in the last month when Atlanta McIlwraith, representing Timberland, and I, representing the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA), made a joint presentation about the reintroduction of cotton to Haiti at the Responsible Business Forum 2018. Our talk is available on YouTube and the accompanying Timberland/SFA case study can be downloaded here.

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Timberland, Discovery, Disney Win Big With Cause Marketing

Timberland began as a sponsor of the Smallholder Farmers Alliance and their tree planting initiative in
Haiti, and now is working with them to return cotton to Haiti.

REPRINT > Sarah Mahoney for Marketing Daily

Engage for Good, a cause-marketing group with both corporate and nonprofit members, is handing out its annual Halo Awards, with companies like Discovery, Disney, Walgreens and Timberland taking top honors.

The organization awarded 28 winners, chosen from 125 entries.

“Once again, Halo-winning campaigns rose to the top by effectively communicating cause-related messages while measurably building a better world and the bottom line,” says Engage for Good President David Hessekiel, in announcing the honorees.

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Next Generation Digital Tools for Smallholder Farmers in Haiti

Columbia student Nadia Asgaraly (center) guides Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) agronomist Georges
Dency (left) in using a beta data management app while Timote Georges, SFA Executive Director, looks on.

The students are part of a 'capstone project' providing a real-time consulting service to the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) before graduating in May. Specifically, the students are key members of a larger team (which includes the Better Sourcing Program and RCS Globalfocused on developing a revolutionary new data management system that will help smallholders growing cotton and other crops to be more productive and profitable, while incorporating blockchain technology that will help potential cotton export customers like Timberland, Patagonia and Vans achieve increased transparency and efficiency.

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Helping Puerto Rican Smallholder Farmers Rebuild - PART TWO

A Helping Hand from Haiti

It was announced yesterday at the Clinton Global Initiative (CGI) Action Network on Post-Disaster Recovery at the University of Miami that the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) and  Visit Rico are undertaking a feasibility study exploring the possibility of reintroducing cotton to Puerto Rico as part of the recovery efforts following the devastation caused by Hurricane Maria. 

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Helping Puerto Rican Smallholder Farmers Rebuild – PART ONE

Marta (right), coordinator of the Ponce farmer’s market, presents a check to a fellow farmer Nathaniel.

Supporting Farmer to Farmer Assistance

Last October a young farmer named Yanna Muriel Mohan stood on a stage near Washington, D.C. and gave a moving first-hand account of how Hurricane Maria had brought devastation upon the organic smallholder farmers she worked with in Puerto Rico through an organization called Visit Rico. She had not yet finished her presentation when the attendees of the Textile Sustainability Conference began a spontaneous effort, led by the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, to raise funds to help Visit Rico support farm recovery efforts. By the close of the conference attendees had pledged close to $30,000, with individual contributions topped off by corporate donations from Timberland Eileen FisherLenzingWestpoint Home and several other companies represented at the event.

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Timberland Is Helping Rebuild Haiti’s Cotton Industry

[Photo: Thomas Noreille / SFA]REPRINT > Ben Schiller for Fast Company

Can using blockchain to verify cotton as organic help revive the industry in Haiti?

Haiti hasn’t grown cotton in decades. Its once-abundant industry collapsed in the 1970s due to government corruption, economic mismanagement, and U.S. embargoes. But now, thanks to a project involving thousands of smallholder farmers, apparel brands like Timberland, and a blockchain network, it could be set for a comeback. Within a few years, if all goes to plan, the island will be supplying millions of pounds of organic cotton for shoes, shirts, and other clothing sold in U.S. stores.

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