APPROACH AND METHODOLOGY
The HER Cooperative is currently cultivating 60 acres of a 250 acre tract of land earmarked for HER Activities, owned by OVP-WDI's sister NGO in Haiti, Village-Planète. On a ten acre garden plot, they are growing subsistence crops, and on the other 50 acres they have recently commenced a sustainable fuel-wood forest, funded by the PNUD Small Grants Program and The Agence Française de Développement (AFD).
The major obstacles that stand in the way of the HER Cooperative's continued success and growth are a failure to identify a sustainable energy source to power the irrigation pumps in the two existing wells on the property, and their lack of a mechanism to effectively irrigate the available land for sustained cultivation. Once these barriers have been removed, with the guidance and expertise of Village-Planète's committed agronomists, the 213 HER Cooperative members will be able to expand their cultivated land ten-fold, increasing their yields of cash and subsistence crops, and better enabling them to care for their families.
IMPLEMENTATION, TIMELINE, AND DELIVERABLES
The HER Cooperative is poised to scale their agricultural activities as soon as funds are available. The first step toward this will be to secure the necessary infrastructure, namely a sustainable energy source and irrigation system, to effectively cultivate the available land. Once these improvements have been implemented, HER Cooperative members will begin growing both their subsistence crops and the income generating products to fulfill purchase orders from local hotels and restaurants OVP-WDI is currently in the process of securing.
The goal is to have the energy and irrigation infrastructure in place December 2011. From that point it will be between 3 to 6 months before the HER Cooperative's first agricultural products will be ready for sale.
According to the CIA World Factbook, of the approximately 10 million people living in Haiti today, nearly two-thirds depend on agriculture for their livelihoods. Primarily in rural settings, these small-scale farmers live in areas with poor infrastructure and few resources, and according to the CIA World Factbook, have an average income of less than $1 a day. Not surprisingly, food insecurity is endemic. The village of Derac, home of the HER Farming Cooperative, is a prime example of this situation. Derac is a community of approximately 3000 people, primarily composed of the descendants of former migrant laborers from the Dauphin Sisal Plantation. As One Village Planet's research has shown, with very little income, the inhabitants of this village consume only about 1000 calories a day, primarily from imported rice.
Although issues of land tenure are perhaps more complicated in Haiti than in other places, there is in fact ample cultivatable land, and the country's agricultural sector was once a major driver of the economy (Charlebois). However, due to lack of infrastructure and a poor market position, small-scale farmers are unable to earn a living with what they currently produce on this land.
One Village Planet-Women's Development Initiative is committed to ensuring that the HER Cooperative gains access to the necessary land, infrastructural improvements, and education so that they may begin to cultivate high value agricultural products alongside subsistence crops, and commit to facilitating market access for these products through local hotels and restaurants. Regarding land access, the sister NGO in Haiti, Village Planete, has a 99 year lease on 250 acres of property attached to the village and has agreed to lease a portion of it gratis to the HER cooperative for the purposes of this project.