Firmenich, which co-owned a distillation plant in the 1980s and early 1990s that produced superior lime oil exports to the United States and has since closed, aims to re-launch the lime industry in Haiti alongside its partners, Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) and Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation (APEC). At the same time, Firmenich and its partners will contribute to reforestation, protecting against soil erosion, and increasing agricultural yields via training.
Firmenich, SFA, and APEC will provide 4,000 smallholder farmers in the Central Plateau with additional revenues from a commercial croplime. Farmers will receive free or low-cost lime seedlings, training, and support necessary to successfully diversify their production with a high value, commercially important, essential oils and food crops.
SFA and APEC will organize the distribution of free or low-cost lime seedlings to a network of 4,000 smallholder farmers. Regular technical support will also be provided to ensure that the lime trees will survive and flourish at production age. Both Firmenich and its partners will coordinate transportation of limes, and Firmenich will purchase lime from smallholder farmers and will transform limes into essential oil. Firmenichs ultimate goal is to be able to re-create a successful lime oil industry with a local lime distillery in Haiti.
As with any sustainable agricultural program, Firmenich will also conduct a baseline study to identify farming communities needs and aspirations and will develop programs with local nonprofits to address the needs expressed by local population, whether it is building a school for farmers kids or easing access to finance or basic healthcare.
- Build a nursery in the Central Plateau region
- Organize seed planting in October 2014-February 2015
- Manage seedlings distribution in August 2015-June 2016
- Sell and distribute 200,000 lime seedlings to their network of 2,000 farmers
- Visit and assist farmers 5 times a year to ensure trees mature to production age
- Sell the lime to Firmenich
- Grow 20,000 limes trees in a newly-built nursery near St. Michel de lAttalaye
- Transplant lime seedlings from June 2015 to October, 2015 to newly-established agroforestry orchards that have field crop under-planting: one mid-size orchard of five hectares that is owned by an SFA cooperative, 20 micro-orchards of around one hectare each owned by individual SFA cooperative members, 250 small plots, such as farm compounds, individually owned by farmer cooperative members
- Provide training and tools to farmers, along with seeds for crops planted between the trees.
- Sell the lime to Firmenich
Throughout this period, Firmenich will work closely with SFA and APEC.
Haiti has a long history of producing citrus, including lime, dating back the 15th century. Over time, lime trees in Haiti were cut down for fuel, and according to the International Trade Center, exports of Haitian essential oils dropped from $10.67 million in 1995 to $5.08 million in 2003.
Despite this decrease, according to the World Bank, agriculture still represents 25% of Haitis GDP, 50% of its employment, and up to 75% of employment in the poorest households. In light of the increasing demand of lime rising from 0.75 pounds a year per person in the United States in 1990-91 to 2.96 tons in 2012-13 as reported by the United States Department of Agriculture, and the global shortage of lime, developing lime production in Haiti represents a unique opportunity to improve the economic livelihood of farmers.
In addition, reforestation is a crucial topic in Haiti as only 2% of Haitis original forests still exist. With climate and soil quality excellently matched to the agronomic needs of lime production, Haiti may be able to revitalize its lime industry and diversify its farming system through this engagement.