Etienne and his employees bring crop knowledge, high-quality seeds, and assistance in marketing their produce to farmers. Besides increased incomes, people are healthier because of the introduction of food crops with better nutritional value and higher yields than the limited range of plants previously available in the area. As part of Hurricane Matthew recovery and rebuilding, Etienne, with his interns and volunteers, transformed most of the 5 acres of land surrounding the Les Anglais Baptist church into a lush vegetable garden to feed the hungry, teach the community, and raise money by selling the surplus. The efforts of Etienne and the agronomists he has trained continue to reach more farmers with knowledge and practical help, such as procuring and transporting seeds and plant starts when “political manifestations” make travel difficult and risky.
Etienne is running an exciting program with global implications. Establishing a cacao industry in southwest Haiti will grow new forests, provide a significant source of income for thousands of Haitian families, and help alleviate the predicted chocolate shortage. Coffee has been a major cash crop in Haiti, but with the arrival of the coffee berry borer beetle in the Caribbean islands and the droughts that have accompanied climate change, that industry is waning. Cacao plants are better suited to the new weather conditions, and the time is right: the worldwide demand for chocolate is increasing faster than production, while at the same time temperatures and droughts are increasing for Cote d’Ivoire, Ghana, and other major producers, raising the fear that plantations in those areas will become unsuitable for cacao in the next few decades.
Move mouse over pictures to show captions.