WASHINGTON, July 15, CMC – The world’s largest single buyer of coffee, food giant Nestlé, is to join a value-chain project to help Haiti’s comeback bid as a world-class producer, the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) has said.
As world coffee prices rise to record levels, Haiti has not cashed in on its once principal agricultural product, with output shrinking to less than a tenth of its levels 20 years ago.
Now, in a bid to “double” coffee yields while improving food security for 10,000 small-scale growers and their families, the IDB said Switzerland-based Nestlé – maker of the Nescafe coffee brand – is to provide 300,000 US dollars in technical assistance to a coffee value chain project.
The project involves Haiti’s national coffee institute and agencies representing major coffee producer Colombia and coffee-consuming France.
“With appropriate investments and cultivation techniques, their coffee output could double,” the IDB said.
Nestlé’s assistance will focus on efforts to rehabilitate coffee orchards, improve farmer productivity, and transfer knowledge from Colombia to Haiti, aided by the French NGO Agronomists and Veterinarians without Borders (AVSF), the bank said.
Haitian coffee was once the country’s main farm export, accounting for as much as 70 per cent of its overseas agricultural sales up to two decades ago.
But the IDB blamed a persistent lack of farm investment among a combination of international and domestic factors for output shrinking to less than one-tenth of its peak.
Coffee exports shrank to 16,000 bags in 2009 from 191,000 bags in 1990. But by April 2011, world coffee prices had reached a 34-year peak above three US dollars a pound. On Friday, July coffee futures closed at 1.84 US dollars a pound.
The IDB said that one of the project’s principal goals is to raise yields of coffee and other staples grown by farmers in “Creole gardens”, thereby strengthening their families’ food security.
To help raise farm productivity, the IDB said Nestlé will supply high-yielding coffee seedlings to replace ageing coffee trees on Haitian smallholder farms.
The company will also provide seedlings for staple crops such as banana and yams that promote food security.
Through its office in the Dominican Republic, the IDB said Nestlé will provide direct technical assistance to small coffee producers in Haiti.
“The company will foster knowledge transfer and best practices by sponsoring study tours between Haiti and other coffee producing countries,” it said.
The coffee value chain project is to be launched in Port-au-Prince later this week, with the participation of more than 100 stakeholders in Haiti’s coffee sector including growers, representatives of producer organizations, cooperative networks, roasters, the Ministry of Agriculture, donor agencies, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs).
The project is supported by the IDB’s Multilateral Investment Fund (FOMIN), the French Agency for Development (AFD), the Colombian government, the National Coffee Federation of Colombia (FNC) and Haiti’s National Coffee Institute (INCAH).