[From our Economic Development Coordinator Holden on the field in Haiti]
It has been a couple months since I have been able to sit down and write a thorough update. It is necessary now, however, because this year will look very different than last. It is important to communicate why we will do the things we will do, and a rough plan on how we will do them.
Our egg business took 2016 as a “trial period”. We did not want to spend tons of money on a project that wouldn’t work. We chose community members we believed would work hard and take ownership in a business. We were patient and grew slowly, being cautious in making decisions and setting expectations. Over time, these farmers showed they could take responsibility and trust the process. We even took the final months of 2016 to take a step back and see if the business could survive with little change and intercession. Months and months of training farmers and carefully building the business has proven successful.
Our business is financially sustainable day to day. This means that farmers make enough money to pay all of their regular business expenses. This also means they can repurchase the same amount of chickens they had, when their current chickens stop laying. All along, sustainability was our goal. However, our partners currently work on such a small scale, expanding their business from 65 chickens would take an enormous amount of time.
We have always known the market can bear more eggs than we are producing. We also know that the success of our business means pushing out an import product, doing only good things in the long run for the Haitian economy. Now that these farmers have grasped the principles of the business and shown great accomplishment, we can begin producing and growing on a larger scale. This year we plan to tackle this in three phases.
Phase 1: Innovation
Over the last several months, it has been the farmers’ goal to acquire a new incubator. This incubator will allow these farmers to raise their own chicks, and compared to purchasing chickens from another business, saves them a substantial amount of money. This will allow the cooperative to expand cheaply and on its own schedule while obtaining extra income selling male birds for meat.
The total cost of an incubation setup is about $2,000. For months, each farmer has contributed a portion of their income to purchase this incubator, however they need partnering donors to finally attain it. This investment includes the incubator itself, a brooder, and a back-up electricity source. Our goal is to purchase and install this incubator system in March.
Phase 2: Expansion
As the number of chickens grows with an incubator, the need for more facilities grows as well. Together, farmers will need to build one shared “intermediate coop”. This coop provides housing for adolescent chickens after the brooder, that are still too young to produce eggs. Next, each farmer will build an individual structure to expand the flocks on their property. Our goal is to expand each farm to 150 laying chickens, meaning each farmer will need another coop on their property.
Each individual coop costs nearly $750 to build, creating a total cost of $2,250 to outfit our three partners for expansion. The shared intermediate coop adds an additional $2,000. Coops include a wood structure, metal roof, feeders, drinkers, laying house, feed storage, and lights. Our plan is to build each of these structures in April in preparation for new birds.
Phase 3: Extension
The majority of 2017 will be focused on innovating and expanding within the current farmers. However, our long term plan has always been to take on more farmers, creating more jobs, and giving more members of our community a chance at an income. This year, we plan to add another member of our community into the cooperative. The cost to introduce a new farmer into the cooperative and provide them with the equipment and facilities necessary to thrive is $4,000.
Our goal for this project has always been sustainability. First, we want these Haitian farmers to be able to make a wage that significantly impacts their life. We have seen these farmers able to pay rent bills and feed their children- the burden of providing for a family finally starting to ease. We also want to give Haitians the opportunity to develop their business. Considering the great strides these farmers have made in learning and carrying out business principles, growing their business is the next step. Lastly, our aim is to start Haitian farmers with this business, and help them grow and expand to financial sustainability so that they never need our outside support again. Not only does this preserve the dignity of these farmers, but it places pride in their business knowing they can be successful independent of ongoing funding.
All of these things are great and exciting, but they need your help to become reality. Our egg business has proven successful and our donors have peace of mind knowing that their money is making a real difference. Consider helping us reach our goals for 2017, including Hope Community Project’s effort to purchase land which would allow our community’s chicken farmers to expand even more!
Click HERE or the RED button near the top of this page to help with our job development program.