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USAID Project Helps Farmers Cooperatives Crank Up Their Business

“The direct contact that I have with distributors is the best thing that has ever happened to me.” — Béliard Miracle, a farmer in the Kenscoff region of Haiti

In 2010, Béliard Miracle was an unknown farmer in the Kenscoff region of Haiti. His meager income came from small harvests of vegetables that he cultivated in difficult conditions, without the benefit of modern production techniques. With limited access to markets, he made just $1,000 per year. Then something changed in his community that made it possible for Miracle to earn three times that amount in a single month.

To help Haitian farmers reach potential markets on a greater scale and supply large distributors, in March 2012, Feed the Future West, a USAID project under the U.S. Government’s Feed the Future initiative, launched a program supporting farmers associations to organize into legally designated cooperatives. The project collaborated with the newly formed Asosyasyon Chanpyons, a cooperative that specifically aims to improve marketing of agricultural products. As a result of this collaboration and their legal status, these farmers now have the opportunity to do business directly with buyers, access cheaper agricultural inputs, and access credit for larger-scale investments otherwise only available to legally recognized groups.

Miracle was among the farmers who joined the Organization for the Economic Development of Mahotiere (ODEMAR), one of the most prosperous of the Feed the Future West-supported farmers associations. ODEMAR committed itself to 10 key principles of environmental stewardship and modern agricultural techniques, giving its products the designation of “Chanpyon,” or Champion. The Chanpyon label is given to high-quality agricultural goods produced through sound environmental practices. With this label, Miracle is gaining increased access to markets and contributing to the commercialization of fresh vegetables in the Kenscoff region.

“The direct contact that I have with distributors is the best thing that has ever happened to me,” Miracle said. The training he received has allowed him to distinguish himself as a leader and agricultural entrepreneur. “I’ve acquired enough experience in commercialization and management to predict that the Cooperative Chanpyon of Kenscoff will achieve great success,” said Miracle, now the first president of the Cooperative of the Asosyasyon Chanpyon of Kenscoff.

Since March 2012, five regional cooperatives, including over 108,000 farmers, have been established with U.S. Government help in the Cul-de-Sac plain, the Matheux corridor, Kenscoff, Mirebalais and Saut d’Eau. Through the creation of farmers cooperatives as legal entities, the project builds the capacity of farmers to be part of legally recognized entities and works with financial institutions to scale up their business. The project has conducted intensive training programs for the farmers in administrative and financial management, accounting and marketing. It alsoprovides legal guidance to strengthen farmers’ knowledge of the laws which govern their agricultural businesses. Equally important, it has built and strengthened relationships between the farmers’ cooperatives and private sector partners, such as supermarkets, hotels, resorts and restaurants, to create lasting business partnerships.

This story originally appeared on the USAID website. For photos of this project, view USAID’s Flickr set

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