Haiti, officially the Republic of Haiti is a sovereign state in the Western Hemisphere located on the island of Hispaniola in the Greater Antilles. With an estimated size of 27,750 square kilometers, Haiti has 10.6 million people, making it the most populous country in the Caribbean Community (CARICOM)– approximately 61% of the CARICOM population.
Half of all Haitians work in the agricultural sector with 40% depending solely on the sector, although the country relies on imports to supply 44%of their food needs. Agriculture, along with forestry and fishery accounts for 25% of Haiti’s gross domestic product (2012).
Notably, Haiti is the world’s leading producer of vetiver, a root plant used to make luxury perfumes and produces half of the world’s supply. The country also exports:
- Mahogany Nuts
Haiti also produces corn, beans, cassava, yams, sweet potato, peanuts, bananas, millet, pigeon peas, sugarcane, rice, sorghum and wood. It also has a small fishing industry with catches totaling 5,000 tons in recent years.
In terms of livestock, the national herd is over 4.6 million head with 45% goats, 24% cattle, 23% pigs and 8% sheep and also produces high quality baby chicks for export to poultry farmers.
Manufacturing is also an emerging industry producing beverages, butter, edible oils, and flour..
Despite the variety of crops that this country is able to produce, it remains vulnerable due to damage from frequent natural disasters.
The investment opportunities outlined below are based on a seminar delivered at Caribbean Week of Agriculture in 2014 in Suriname entitled “Haiti – Agri-Food Systems And Building Regional Synergies”.
Investment opportunities are favorable due to the country’s wide range of agro climates. This, combined with the Ministry of Agriculture’s assistance to agricultural enterprises to develop business plans and offer support; growing public investment in the sector; and a reduction in the number of days to set up a business make Haiti ripe for investment opportunities and growth.
Interest in investing in Haiti is growing, with a total of USD $600 million expected at the end of 2015. These opportunities are made possible by:
- Private sector investment linking family farming to agribusiness
- High numbers of persons available for employment
- The ability to produce and process on the island
- Haiti’s increasing demand for agricultural products
- Major opportunities for a wide range of commodities/value chains, including poultry, livestock, honey, fisheries, plantains, sugar, coffee, cocoa, roots and tubers, cereals, fruits, and nuts
Coffee and sugar production especially were the pillars of the agricultural sector in Haiti’s early economy. However, sugar production has decreased due to high production costs and coffee has fallen behind mango and cocoa in export value. Creating niche premium brands of coffee, like the case of Jamaica’s Blue Mountain Coffee can go a long way in creating greater revenue for the country.
Vegetable flours could be a major earner for Haiti with CARICOM imports in 2011 valued at US$24 million. Potential lies with the production and processing of plantain and cassava flour for this export market.
Vetiver, in which Haiti is the major exporter worldwide, is in short supply, and there is very high potential for growth in this market to create a range of essential oils.
Cocoa products such as cocoa powder, cocoa paste and cocoa butter continue to be imported in significant quantities by CARICOM with an estimated value of US$5 million in 2010. Cocoa production on the island can go a long way in meeting this regional demand.
Mauby bark is also in high demand and it is understood that exports have already gotten underway from Haiti to Trinidad and Tobago.
Haiti is now working to address its trade deficit by moving into higher-end manufacturing and more value-added products in the agriculture sector.
The government of Haiti has shown an increasing interest in revitalising the agricultural sector, particularly with a main focus on family farming and agri-business, encouraging increased profitability, productivity and performing as a modern, formal and sustainable sector interconnected with other economic sectors. This interest is expressed in several policy documents, one of which is the “Three-Year Agricultural Recovery plan (PTRA) (2013-2016)”. This plan aims to:
- increase rural income by 40%”
- reduce the dependency on food imports by 25% and increase self-sufficiency to 60%
- increase reforestation from 1 to 5 % and d) doubling agricultural exports
Haiti’s government is working on a number of projects to promote sustainable development and transform the sector. These include:
- Traceability – the registration of producers based on a digital national grid system of squares of 1 by 1 kilometer of the whole country
- Food safety and standards – a Food Safety Unit to be established and will incorporate both crop and livestock protection, and quarantine and laboratory facilities
- The creation of a National Bank for Agricultural Development
- Internal and external markets, with a particular focus in agri-tourism, trade shows, exhibitions and international agreements
Haiti – Agri-Food Systems and Building Regional Synergies
Haiti Food and Nutrition Security Platform (FNS)
Spotlight on Family Farming: Family Farming in Haiti (FAO article)
FAO Issue Brief #14 Food and Nutrition Security in Haiti (February 2015)