TCI is very pleased to inform our readers that we have formed a partnership with Cross Catholic Outreach (CCO), a Florida based Catholic development foundation, in support of #haitifruittrees, our integrated food security and local governance program in Haiti’s Grand Anse Department which goes by the acronym ASAGLO. Often referred to as the post-hurricane “women’s fruit tree distribution program”, ASAGLO works through women’s associations all over the Grand Anse Department, widely known as having Haiti’s most rugged and challenging terrain. Begun six months ago as a Christmas effort to move from hurricane relief to sustainable development with the financial backing of a dozen wonderful concerned friends and supporters sponsoring the purchase and transportation of a few hundred fruit trees, ASAGLO has grown into a Big Idea. Subsequently, the encouragement and hands-on support from people ranging from the Bishop of Jeremie and the Grand Anse Department’s major hotel to individuals on the street and peasant farmers- have made us realize that this thing, folks, has legs! ASAGLO is obviously the sort of thing that happens when people with decades of international development experience and people with compassion and a strong sense of civic engagement come together to address a burning issue. We take this opportunity to thank CCO and the Trees That Feed Foundation (TTFF) for enabling us to enhance the private contributions and increase impact. Because of the support, donations from individuals can now go much further. We need to figure out ways to let this be known widely so that we can grow the program.
So the theme of today’s blogpost is “growing the program”. We have been researching this for a while and definitely have ideas, but we hope readers will also jump into the discussion and offer suggestions. Today’s update is that in this current phase of ASAGLO we’re distributing 9,000 fruit tree seedlings, 5,000 moringa seedlings, and 2,200 manioc cuttings to 4,500 women and their 13,500 children in every single parish in the Grand Anse, and we’re doing it through their civic associations. ASAGLO is the only development project that combines food security with local governance; the only one that works in each of the Grand Anse’s 45 parishes; and the only one that works uniquely through women’s organizations. And yes, we’re doing this now, during the current rainy season, which is also hurricane season in the Grand Anse.
Our support from CCO is a great help with local transportation and Field Agent costs and contributes to our seedling costs, while our support from TTFF provides 200 breadfruit trees every month. This means that every seven dollars of individual donations now provide two trees (plus transport, extension services and training). Frankly, we haven’t found any program in this hemisphere that is more cost effective, and we certainly know it wouldn’t be possible without all the individual donors and partnership.
There’s another way we are growing the program. Today we launched a “pay it forward” program, where we select an organization through which we distribute manioc cuttings to a group of women who agree to “reimburse” the same number of cuttings they’ve received to their association (or any organization of their choice) when they harvest after nine months, so that their association can run the program and distribute them to additional women. In this way more women will produce more manioc every year, and their associations will grow in membership, capacity and stature. We started the “pay it forward” manioc program on June 22 with the women in the Paradis des Indiens association in the beautiful, remote coastal community of Les Abricots, where area farms were wiped out by hurricane Matthew. Two thousand two hundred cuttings of manioc that we produced on our farm were distributed to over 100 women in Les Abricots. The 2,200 cuttings will produce up to 40,000 pounds of food for their families and 15,000 new cuttings at harvest, meaning that the women will multiply their next planting seven-fold. The women have each promised to pay it forward through their associations. In this way, every year 100 additional women will start to grow their own manioc and will help their association provide support to more members. We’ve decided to speed up this process by starting a pay it forward manioc program in a new community every year.
For anyone who might have the good fortune to visit the beautiful community of Abricots, drop by Paradis des Indiens assocation and ask Mica de Verteuil, the Director, about the women who are planting fruit trees. For those who aren’t so fortunate to be making a visit just yet, just keep an eye on this blog and we will keep you posted!
We’re hoping to hear from you!