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- About Alltech
Following the devastating earthquake in January 2010, it became clear that Haiti needs more than disaster relief. They need sustainable economic growth, jobs, agriculture and education. The Alltech Sustainable Haiti Project began in Ouanaminthe, Haiti, with the goal of helping build a sustainable future in one small part of Haiti. Alltech's efforts have focused on education by working on improving and upgrading schools, strengthening local Haitian enterprises by launching a Haitian coffee and Haitian rhum, and leading various economic development projects throughout the country.
Haiti’s ongoing problems overshadow the disaster of the earthquake. It is the poorest country in the western hemisphere. Centuries of poverty have resulted in poorly built and maintained structures and sprawling slums with makeshift housing. The epicenter of the earthquake was only 15 km from the densely-populated capital, Port-au-Prince. Roughly 2 million people live in this area of heavy to moderate structural damage.
Deforestation in Haiti is almost complete. Unsustainable timber harvesting and agricultural clearing began during French rule and continued after Haiti won its independence in 1804. In recent decades the demand for cooking charcoal has accelerated the destruction. In 1960 approximately 60% of Haiti was forested. Today it is only 3%. To make matters worse, land ownership in many areas is poorly documented and timber concessionaires, driven by short-term income, have no motivation to preserve standing trees for future harvest. Once the trees have been cut, the roots are dug up to get as much wood as possible. This practice results in devastating soil erosion and makes it nearly impossible for the forests to grow back. Deforestation and the resulting soil erosion increase the frequency of flooding and reduce agricultural potential.
Sustainable economic growth is the only thing that will make a long-term difference in Haiti. Alleviating poverty, changing agricultural and forestry practices and providing new energy sources - these are the things that must occur to make Haiti less vulnerable.
Haiti needs a healthy economy. It needs businesses that can create jobs, pay taxes and invest in infrastructure. Businesses can help Haiti by doing business in Haiti; and the business they do must be sustainable. There is no room left for traditional trade that exploits natural resources. There is nothing left to exploit.
Today the Alltech Sustainable Haiti Project includes complete financial responsibility as well as renovations and education support for two grade schools in northern Haiti; and the resurrection of a Haitian gem - the country’s 100% shade-grown Arabica coffee, which Alltech markets and sells as Alltech Café Citadelle.
Through its Sustainable Haiti Project, Alltech is providing new and sustainable employment opportunities to the Haitian people and inspiration to their children - the hope and future of Haiti.