There are few reasons for celebration at the moment in Haiti, but the arrival this week of cotton processing equipment imported from India is worthy of at least a modest double celebration. First is the fact that it arrived at all. Somehow the ship carrying the equipment managed to get to Haiti in spite of the worldwide supply chain crisis that has container ships being delayed everywhere. Once at the port it had to be loaded onto a truck (see photo below), and finding fuel for even a simple transfer like this is a challenge because of the fuel shortage affecting the entire country. Then after being loaded, the truck’s driver had the daunting challenge of avoiding the well-armed gangs that are targeting anything moving in and out of the port.
Cotton processing equipment from India being unloaded in Port-au-Prince.
The second cause for celebration has to do with what this equipment represents for the future of Haiti. Up to now the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) has used a small mobile gin to remove the seeds from cotton grown by our farmer members. This cotton was then compressed into bales using a home-made machine and exported to become the first three Timberland products made from Haitian cotton that were released earlier this year. But the arrival of a commercial-scale cotton gin and baler is an important step as the SFA prepares to more than quadruple the number of farmers growing cotton next year.
Even in the midst of the chaos that is currently gripping the nation, we are planning this major expansion with the conviction that it will improve the lives of thousands of smallholders and contribute to the revival of the country’s rural economy. Cotton was once the fourth largest agricultural export from here, and it has the potential to exceed that level over the next few years.
And so, we invite you to help us celebrate this arrival, both tangible and symbolic, of hope in Haiti.