The Haitian cities of Ouanaminthe and Dondon have turned coffee production into an opportunity to establish a sustainable economy. Since 2010, the Sustainable Haiti Project — developed by these communities in collaboration with Alltech — has helped bolster urban infrastructure, decreased the school dropout rate and has generally improved the quality of life for this region’s citizens.
Product export revenues from the Sustainable Haiti Project have, thus far, benefited 600 families in Dondon and helped enroll 800 children in two newly built schools. This initiative was the brainchild of the late Alltech founder Dr. Pearse Lyons, who, following the earthquake that devastated the island nation in 2010, traveled to Haiti to help. During his visit, the Irish businessman realized that the capital city of Port-au-Prince was already home to many businesses and organizations — leading him to focus his efforts on other areas of the country.
“Upon arriving in Dondon, he perceived the potential of the region,” said project coordinator Avelyne St. Hilaire. “He wanted to do a long-term project that could help people. The idea was to strengthen communities that are remote from Port-au-Prince in a sustainable way, so that children do not need to move to have a better future.”
The Sustainable Haiti Project helped improve the condition of the roads that led to local schools, which had previously been difficult to access, contributing to a high rate of dropout.
“Before, the children did not have the opportunity to study, because parents could not leave them in the schools,” St. Hilaire continued. “Today, they manage to go to their jobs and know that their children will be studying and receiving support.”
In addition to these efforts to enhance quality of life, the Sustainable Haiti Project also promotes sustainable coffee production. Coffee has historically been Haiti's main export, and, with Alltech’s support, producers in Dondon and Ouanaminthe have achieved higher crop yields — without damaging the environment.
“We have done our best to set up new planting practices, thinking about the quality of light and shade for grains and looking to control diseases in a natural way,” said Cedieu Joseph, president of the cooperative. “Today, we have a biological coffee, which benefits our exports.”
The coffee produced in Dondon is recognized as high-quality and stands out as Haiti’s only organic coffee product. Sitting at more than 243 meters above sea level, the geographic location of the local coffee production makes the grains softer and gives the beans a differentiated, unique flavor.
But thanks to the efforts of the Sustainable Haiti Project, this coffee is special for more than its flavor profile. "When people consume Café Citadelle, they are not only consuming a simple coffee,” said St. Hilaire. “They are helping people and changing their reality.”
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