No Wonder The Haitian Coffee Industry Is Failing
Little did I know, when I visited a coffee region at the end of 2016 after Hurricane Matthew hit Southern Haiti, that I had launched into my irreversible coffee journey. I had seen areas 60 miles further away, closer to the coast, that had been completely devastated.
It was unbelievable. The force which must have exerted itself on the natural landscape there, astronomical. Majestic Royal Palms, like you see lining grand boulevards in Miami, were twisted and split into 1,000 pieces.
Now, here I was up in the mountains traveling through regions which is known as prime coffee country. But what I was learning is that even here, with mountains in-between the landscape had not escaped the force of the Hurricane.
The farmers I encountered shared their stories. They showed me the shells of their coffee production facilities, open to the elements, roofs gone, hope lost. Some had some coffee seed, which usually sells for many multiples more than regular green coffee. In an attempt to salvage some dignity and semblance of a future, they were making arrangements to start up some nurseries to plant the coffee seeds in their possession.
"What do you need the most?", I asked.
Surprisingly they were open about their plight and shared with me that they really needed plastic grow bags to start the seedlings and watering cans.
Approximately a year later I was in the Northern part of the country and heard stories there about how disease had hit the coffee trees there which significantly curtailed their coffee production.
From the beginning of 2015 through the end of 2016 Haiti's Coffee export reduced by a whopping 85% per the country's documentation. And this is after a precipitous drop in production beginning in the 1970's .
What has caused Haiti's coffee demise?
1. Lack of any significant coffee plantations
2. Coffee Barons not planting new trees
3. The coffee industry relies on the small-plot farmer to produce the supply.
4. Natural Disasters (hurricanes and disease)
5. Haiti's buy and sell higher mentality
6. Poverty (which creates isolation and ignorance of new coffee practices)
Yes, it is no wonder with all these factors, that Haiti's coffee production is sliding into oblivion.
However, there are a few bright spots in the industry. The coffee barons are beginning to wake up to the fact that if more trees aren't planted they won't have a business soon. They will just have to import more coffee from outside the country than they currently are bringing in now. It's sad. Haiti at one time produced over 40% of all the coffee consumed in the world.