Operation Feed Yourself

OPERATION FEED YOURSELF

Operation Feed Yourself, a unique agricultural program, is the brainchild of the Haitian Development Network Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable development in Haiti through various initiatives, including agriculture.

Operation Feed Yourself's primary goal is to increase the volume and diversity of agriculture intended for domestic consumption in Haiti. To achieve this, the program implements various strategies such as providing technical support, improving access to inputs and technologies, and facilitating trade. These initiatives can significantly improve small Haitian producers' livelihoods, offering them a pathway out of poverty.

The program's first 'Five Year Plan' expressly set a goal of 10% annual growth in agricultural output. This growth in agriculture would also significantly affect employment levels. The plan includes strategies such as promoting the cultivation of high-value crops, improving agricultural infrastructure, and enhancing market access for small producers.

Program Structure by Zones of Production

Operation Feed Yourself aims to maximize crop production by inclusively covering all 10 departments, 42 districts, 144 municipalities, and 570 communal sections in Haiti, ensuring that no area is left behind.

Small Haitian producers face numerous challenges, such as the inability to ensure profitability and participate in the country's economic activities, despite their efforts to promote their goods.

A few of these are the liberalization policy and the weak tariff protections introduced in the late 1980s with the country's trade liberalization, which have subjected national productions to the fierce competition of imported products;

The Lack of technical support structures and the underinvestment in critical sectors and service infrastructures;

  • The low literacy rate
  • The low productivity and depreciation of production
  • The low productivity and depreciation of production systems and limited access to inputs, technologies, and services, including credit, of small producers involved in mostly subsistence activities;
  • Strong land ownership pressure and land fragmentation in addition to widespread degradation of natural resources, massive deforestation, and intense water erosion in watersheds;
  • The difficulty in finding markets for products, isolation of many production areas from consumer markets resulting in significant losses and very high transportation costs;

More production promotion through trade facilitation, an improved marketing process, and the limited capacities of entrepreneurial groups regarding know-how, organizational and technical practices, planning, and commercialization are needed.

The typical product development program, 'a product by locality,' is a crucial part of our activities. It is conducted by MCI in coordination with other sectorial ministries, including the Ministry of Tourism and Agriculture. This program aims to associate each locality with a product of reputation and quality commercial value by labeling products of controlled origin. Your active participation and input in this process are not just valuable, but essential for its success.

The informal sector, which is a significant part of the Haitian economy, is mainly constituted of independent contractors and MSMEs. These businesses, primarily specialized in the trade of imported goods, do not contribute to the creation of general wealth. As a result, the economy is marked by a growing number of 'working poor' who cannot live from their activities. Operation Feed Yourself aims to address this issue by promoting the development of 'typical products,' which are unique to each locality and have the potential to generate significant economic value.

Several factors explain the difficulties that small Haitian producers encounter, which hinder their ability to break the cycle of poverty and access national and international markets.

From these observations and knowing that the informal sector is the largest provider of jobs in the country, this process is crucial. Experiments conducted in developing countries have demonstrated that development initiatives based on emerging and strengthening specialized MSMEs in local production benefit the economies. They facilitate local raw materials worth value, the increase of the regional output added value, the creation of productive employment, the cementing of people in their communities, the reduction of poverty among vulnerable social groups, and the valorization of people.

Developing the typical products will positively impact wealth creation, promotion of employment, and income for the population. This strategy will be crucial for economic and social development and will increase and sustain local production, fostering access to foreign markets and ensuring territorial diversity. Identification, classification, and improvement of the regional output are the necessary steps for implementing this strategy, which will also need to prioritize the promotion of the products and the capacity building of local stakeholders (skills in management, production, promotion, marketing, and quality control).

The local authorities, including the mayors, municipal districts, administrative council of the municipal district (CASEC), and communal section assemblies (ASEC), play a crucial role in Operation Feed Yourself. They are involved in the planning and implementation of the program, ensuring that it aligns with the needs and priorities of each locality.

Organization and workshop execution

In September 2012, the MCI initiated identifying and classifying typical products with the support of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP ) and other national and local stakeholders.

Two distinct phases of actions were planned as such:

The first stage of consultation with local stakeholders is through forums within all 10 departments, with nationwide feedback and working sessions. During workshops organized by the Ministry of Industry and Commerce and the Ministry of Agriculture, participants were introduced to the methodology before being divided into working groups.

These 30 high-added-value products were prioritized to benefit from immediate actions.

Detailed information on each product was compiled to highlight the opportunities for job creation and the recommendations needed to optimize the value chain. Afterward, each group presented the department's potential and discussed and exchanged information to create a database of 539 local products in three categories: natural and cultural heritage, local agriculture, small industry, and handicrafts.

A list of 60 products was selected based on seven criteria:

  • The ability to increase production,
  • The existence of stakeholders and/or operational expertise,
  • The existence of a market,
  • The potential of the value chain,
  • Employment creation potential,
  • Diversification of byproduct potential,
  • Environmental impact.

To develop the product data sheets, critical information was collected on each product according to the participants' knowledge.

Finally, the information was visually enhanced using a cartographic database: a comprehensive map of products divided into 3 categories, one card per product category, and 10 departmental maps. A list of 31 products has been prioritized by the participants and grouped by department according to a scoring system based on seven criteria.

The zones and crop assignments are as follows:

  • Artibonite: Rice, Francisque Mango, Sea Salt, Lalo — Saint Michel Clairin, furniture in bamboo
  • Centre: Francisque Mango, Guinea Fowl — peanut butter (Valencia variety)
  • Grand-Anse: coffee, veritable tree, ginger, cocoa—chocolate
  • Nippes: Pineapple, sugar loaf, sugar cane, national rice
  • North: Coffee, cocoa —
  • Northeast: Honey, nuts, peanut — Guava jelly, mats
  • Northwest: Bananas, shallot, Martinique yam — Chocolate
  • West: Broccoli, cherry, Francisque mango — Dous Makos, Darbonne sugar, cut iron, paillette
  • South: Vetiver — Dried mango, Guava Jelly, straw handbag
  • Outheast: Tangerine, coffee — paper mache, basketry, embroidery
  • Central region: Maize, yams, cassava, plantain, rice, pineapple, and sugarcane.

Administrative Structure

The program's structure included components at the national and regional levels. The National Operations Committee had an essential agent for executing its plans in the Program Control Executive, who issued all instructions within Operation Feed Yourself.

Regional Commissioners each led a Regional Agricultural Committee, which received directives from the National Operations Committee and the Program Control Executive. Underneath Regional Agricultural Committees were Regional Agricultural Coordinators, who supervised the distribution of information to farmers at the regional level.

OUTREACH METHODS

Operation Feed Yourself sought to increase the number of citizens working towards crop growth. HDN Foundation will partner with institutions such as universities, secondary schools, military camps, and prisons to encourage the creation of agricultural production units within each institution.

The program will also partner with the Ministry of Education to develop a curriculum that includes agricultural education. The curriculum will be integrated into secondary schools and universities, and will include courses on crop production, animal husbandry, fish farming, and agro-processing.

HDN Foundation Monetization of the Production

This system aims to ensure the existence of a buyer for crops cultivated in rural areas and to provide a means for these food products to reach urban areas.

HDN Foundation will use off-take agreements to purchase crops from farmers and sell them to urban dwellers and overseas buyers.

Join Operation Feed Yourself today and sow a prosperous Haiti!

— Operation Feed Yourself is a program aims to improve the lives of people in Haiti by promoting sustainable agriculture. We work with local farmers to provide them with the tools and training they need to grow more food, earn more money, and feed their families.

Join us today to grow Haiti's agricultural future!

Join us in transforming lives through sustainable agriculture!