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Smallholder Farmers Alliance Blog


Connecting Cotton and Trees Signals New Hope for Farmers in Haiti

The reintroduction of cotton to Haiti began with seeds planted in SFA field trials by (left to right) Thony
Thomas, smallholder farmer; Atlanta McIlraith, Timberland; Pierre Marie Du Mény, Haitian Minister of
Commerce and Industry; Hugh Locke, SFA; Timote Georges, SFA; Nerlande Dautarn, smallholder farmer;
Rémillot Léveillé, noted agronomist who is known as the “father of cotton” in Haiti. The tree seedlings,
transplanted elsewhere after this ceremony, symbolize the unique connection being made between trees
and cotton in the SFA model. Photo credit: SFA/Thomas Noreille.

Cotton is back in Haiti after a 30-year absence, having once been the country's fourth largest agricultural export. Global outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland, the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) and Haiti's Minister of Commerce and Industry, Pierre Marie Du Mény, have together announced the reintroduction of cotton as an anchor crop to help revitalize farming, boost the economy and contribute to environmental restoration through being linked to tree planting.

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Farmers in Haiti Get Agricultural Support… and Shoes?

Farmers in the Laborde area in southern Haiti trying on their new Vans shoes. The gift had special meaning
because of how much these farmers lost when Hurricane Matthew caused so much damage in their area.

It began as a simple question. Would the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA)  like a gift of 4,000 pairs of shoes for our farmer members in Haiti?

The question had been posed by Timberland, our long-time sponsor and soon-to-be client (when we reintroduce cotton to Haiti). But the offer was not for Timberland footwear, but rather shoes made by Vans. Both companies are owned by the VF Corporation and have factories near each other in the neighboring Dominican Republic. Sun Jade International, the factory that manufactures Vans shoes, worked closely with Timberland to facilitate the donation.

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Good News, Despite What You’ve Heard

John Brimah, on the back of a motorbike, had leprosy as a child and is now in charge of a leprosy,
hospital in Ganta, Liberia. Photo credit Monique Jaques for The New York Times.

REPRINT > Nicholas Kristof for The New York Times

GANTA, Liberia — Cheer up: Despite the gloom, the world truly is becoming a better place. Indeed, 2017 is likely to be the best year in the history of humanity. 

To explain why, let me start with a story. I’m on my annual win-a-trip journey with a university student, who this year is Aneri Pattani, a newly minted graduate of Northeastern University. One of the people we met is John Brimah, who caught leprosy as a boy.

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Rainforest Alliance, UTZ Merge to Create Single Agriculture Sustainability Standard

REPRINT > Sustainable Brands

Two of the world’s leaders in sustainable agriculture and certification, Rainforest Alliance and UTZ have announced plans to merge later this year in an effort to simplify the certification process for sustainable agriculture.

Under the name Rainforest Alliance, the organization will continue to address environmental and social issues around the world, including climate change, deforestation, poverty and unsustainable farming. It will create a single global certification standard by 2019 that will streamline certification for farmers and empower companies to build more responsible supply chains, more efficiently. It will also work to expand advocacy efforts and through new partnerships ensure conservation of entire landscapes in priority regions from India to Indonesia and Guatemala to Ghana.

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A possible future for Haiti

REPRINT > The Economist

DUSDUNES, HAITI – Swivel, clank, scoop, dump. On the outskirts of Desdunes, a town in Haiti’s fertile Artibonite valley, three enormous excavators sink claws into the banks of the muddy Duclos canal. Arching across it, their slender hydraulic arms uproot small trees and drag them through the clay-coloured water as they gouge out mud from the canal bed. They deposit the glistening sludge, mixed with tall grasses, on their side of the channel, forming a neat ridge. Bored-looking policemen lounge in the shade of palm trees, ostensibly to deter thieves from stealing the machines’ batteries. Blue-grey herons stand to attention; cows and horses graze. Ahead of the excavators, the canal is a mere incision through the fens. Behind lies the result of their work: the canal looks wide enough to accommodate a battleship. Naked boys dive in, seeking respite from the Caribbean sun.

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Timberland and Thread Partner to Drive Social Impact in Haiti

The Timberland X Thread collection features five styles of men’s footwear, two bags and one T-shirt —
all made from recycled plastic bottles collected in the streets of Haiti.

REPRINT > by Mary Mazzoni for Triple Pundit

Earlier this month, outdoor gear giant Timberland announced a partnership that quickly drew attention across the web.

The company collaborated with Thread, a Certified B Corporation based in Pittsburgh, on its latest clothing line. The startup transforms plastic bottles from the streets of Haiti and Honduras into what it calls “the most responsible fabric on the planet.”

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A Phoenix Rising in Haiti

An SFA tree nursery under construction in Archambeau, Haiti, next to a giant breadfruit tree felled by
Hurricane Matthew last October.

Smallholder farmers throughout the southwestern region of Haiti have risen up to begin rebuilding following the devastation caused by Hurricane Matthew last October. One image taken last Friday captures the spirit of this vast enterprise as a farmer (above) works on a new tree nursery next to a giant breadfruit tree felled by the storm.

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Haiti Gains Regional Support for Smallholder Cotton Production

The author's great nephew Tobias, with help from the always patient family dog Loki, modeling a shirt
made from smallholder-grown organic cotton from Brazil.

The Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) represented Haiti at a meeting in Paraguay last month to discuss strengthening the cotton sector throughout Latin America and the Caribbean. And yes, the photo below is part of the story... keep reading.

Much of the meeting's agenda focused on the experience and needs of smallholder organic cotton producers in the region. While Brazil produces the most conventionally-grown cotton, it was surprising to learn that Peru is the regional leader in smallholder organic cotton. There are also significant smallholder cotton operations in Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, Paraguay and other countries.

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