Monday, February 1, 2010

Coffee to Help Haiti

Today's post is not so much about decaf as coffee and economic development. The coffee industry can play a significant role in economic development of all coffee growing regions. We've seen it work in Rwanda and now Burundi. If you're not familiar with it, check out the work Dan Clay and others do through the PEARL project at Michigan State University (http://www.iia.msu.edu/pearl/index.htm), partially funded by USAID (http://www.usaid.gov/). Tim Schilling, based at Texas A&M University, is also involved. http://agnewsarchive.tamu.edu/dailynews/stories/AGPR/Sep1107b.htm

Now is the time to start bringing this kind of economic development to Haiti. A project that would support and strengthen specialty coffee farming in Haiti's rural areas should be a part of the long-term planning that the big donor agencies, including USAID, are trying to put together. Coffee may not be the only valuable export crop that could be supported in Haiti's rural, mountainous backlands, but it has been successful in the past. Development workers I know who work in former coffee growing regions say any assistance in this area would be welcome. http://www.haitianartisans.com/

I'd like to encourage David Farmer, Dan Clay, and folks from the Clinton Foundation to sit down with the grassroots organizations at work in rural Haiti and start pilot projects to re-establish coffee in Haiti.

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