USING LAND WISELY TO END POVERTY
Every place - every ecology and culture - contains the means to end poverty. Helping Haiti's poor rural communities find and use those means is what we do.
The best way to end rural poverty is to enable the poor to develop their talents and productively use the land they live on. In Haiti our name is JATROFA PROJENOU (JP). We help people and communities step out of poverty by farming and making things that Haiti needs. We provide training and resources to give legs to their aspirations and hard work. Become their partner - in the words of the poet Archibald MacLeish, we are "riders on the earth together."
NORTHEAST HAITI is a hot dry place and the people who live there are among the poorest in Haiti. They live in the midst of thousands of acres of dry thorny land, which they are entitled to farm, but which cannot sustain food crops. What rain there is, just 20 inches per year, comes in buckets some months, teacups in others, and for six months doesn't come at all.
The people living here eke out the most basic livelihood - trapped in a poverty of subsistence that is factored day to day. Family cash income is estimated at below $750/year. 63 percent of the working age population (age 10 and older) do not have jobs. Life expectancy is 50 for men and 51 for women. Healthy Life Expectancy of both is 44 years. Forty-five percent of the population is younger than 18 years old (USAID/Haiti North Park Power Project, Draft Environmental Assessment Report, 2011)
On the positive side community and family structures are strong, the population is young and energetic, and people are motivated by a widely held belief that the future will be better than today. These are powerful human resources for positive change.
Since 2008 we have been working with the people here to develop a new farm economy based on:
Local processing of crops
Where you are born in Haiti is where you'll most likely live your life and raise your family. Sixty-two percent of Haiti's population is rural. The communities we serve are situated in a dry, difficult landscape, but not one without agricultural potential for a better life. Realizing that potential is the purpose of JP (Jatrofa Projenou).
Jatrofa Projenou (JP)
JP is a community-based effort to improve farming and the rural economy in northeast Haiti. Located in the town of Terrier Rouge, it operates a training center, demonstration farms, an agricultural extension service, and a crop processing facility.
JP is a hub of activities for people who live on and by the land. They come to learn about new crops and ways to earn income security from farming land. They also come to sell their jatropha harvests for cash. Here they see their crops made into products that bring income to their community. They learn how to craft those products, how to market and sell them, and how to succeed in micro-enterprise.
At JP Haitians help Haitians get past the crippling mindset of subsistence poverty that plagues their communities and impedes successful farming. JP offers training in new skills - in agronomy, farm management, crop processing, mechanics, small business, and managing money. We teach peer to peer, Haitian to Haitian, on the land, and totally hands-on to offset illiteracy. We blend innovation with tradition, science with seasoned intuition.
Jatropha the Plant
Jatropha curcas is central to JP's dry land sustainable agriculture and is a lifeline for families who can barely survive on land that cannot support crops grown elsewhere in Haiti like rice, sugarcane and bananas. It is a small tree native to Haiti that is highly adapted to low rainfall, does not require irrigation, and produces a cash crop of oil-rich seeds for decades without replanting.
In dry lands Jatropha curcas is a good cash crop, producing clusters of small round fruits that contain non-edible seeds containing some 40 percent oil. When pressed, the oil can be made into soap, personal care products or diesel fuel, all of which are in demand in Haiti and are otherwise imported.
The pulp that remains after the oil is pressed is a high grade organic fertilizer, which is valuable in Haiti, where all chemical fertilizer is imported and prohibitively expensive.
The seed pulp of some varieties of Jatropha curcas has the potential to be used for high protein animal feed, which in Haiti is imported and expensive.