Rebuilding Haiti must start from the ground up, with agricultural education
The damage is done, the soil is lost. The blame for the erosion is the lack of trees so most believe that reforestation is the answer. But trees don’t stop erosion, forests do, but this takes generations and on dry degraded land, trees will not grow. The way to refurbish Haiti’s soil is to capture it with grass.
Vetiver grass is the best answer to Haiti’s erosion problem. It has been used worldwide, grows even in open pit mines and makes its own terraces as it traps silt, leaves and debris behind it as water strains through it like a filter. It is also natural, available, and very easy compared to other labor intensive terracing methods. It is also the cheapest and only viable solution for the massive plantings needed throughout the country that will pay back 10 fold!
There is no use teaching composting if the compost is not protected from torrential rains that washes it into the ocean. The only thing that will protect the compost is vetiver grass that is strong enough to hold the soil behind the hedge as clean water filters through.
Until people see these gardens producing lots of food, or monetary gain from selling the leaves or plants it is hard to get Haitians to understand the importance of Vetiver hedgerows when they cannot eat it.
Once vetiver hedgerows are establishing large enough terraces and people are using composting toilets and producing sanitary fertilizer adding biochar to the compost they can mix it into the soil on the terrace and start growing more food. This will make black dirt that can hold moisture nutrients and microorganisms.
Haitians will see the benefit of the vetiver hedgerow mitigating hurricane destruction, producing more food as it holds more moisture on the mountainsides. But it takes a few years for terraces to grow and composting toilets to catch on.
We have to start with educating students who can accept new ideas and technology easily. We need to stop the continuous cutting of trees for charcoal. We have many ideas for employing people by training them to build stoves that conserve their resources. We have many ways to grow food that they can sell in abundance. All of our programs also will improve their health.
HRI believes the only way to make any program work including education is to make it in a business format as in our mission statement.
HRI: Dedicated to fòmasyon of Haitians to run sustainable businesses that conserve resources, improve food security and health.
First step to implement the program
TEACH Training Center
Everything in this center must have what we want them to have in their communities all over Haiti. Composting toilets and composting bins, rain collection systems, DC pumps run on solar power, water filtration systems, vetiver nurseries, aquaponics with hydroponics growing tilapia and produce. Mountainside gardens with drip irrigation and improved grafted fruit, avocado and nut trees. We will also have a satellite communication and our HRI website in Creole for more detailed information.
The Centers are to be run by Haitians with international guidance. Instructors and workers will be paid by revenue income of the center from training fees, stove kit costs and produce that is grown. The training centers will be self-sustaining when it is complete.
Students need education but our goal is creating income.
Our plan is to start by bringing students from rural villages all over Haiti in groups of 5 that want to start a business. We have many ideas to put thousands of Haitians to work for their own business that will also conserve resources and make an income.
These stoves will be cheaper than buying charcoal and highly desirable so easy to sell. These students must also teach those that buy them how to prepare the biofuel they will use.
WHY start with Cooking Stoves?
The largest reason for the deforestation and erosion in Haiti today is the continuing need for firewood for cook stoves. No reforestation project will work until they find an alternative for charcoal. We cannot tell people they cannot use it or stop cutting down trees when their families are starving. People who live on this must have another alternative job to support themselves and their families.
Our first student training will be Top Lit Up Draft cook stoves that burn gas made in its own chamber cleanly with little oxygen making a pyrolysis which changes the molecules into gases and leaves the carbon. Our stoves use all the energy of the biomass and the biochar is returned to the soil as an amendment.
Traditional charcoal made from trees represents 10-15% of the total biomass of the tree. In other words, they need large trees to make charcoal, our stoves only need trimmings, and they will never need to cut down trees.
The way Haitians make charcoal is the same pyrolysis process when they cover it and let it burn until charcoal is all that is left, but 85+% of the energy goes up in smoke.
A tree uses carbon dioxide and makes oxygen all its life, but when it dies and decomposes or is burned all the positive effect is lost as it returns all the carbon it has taken out of the atmosphere. When pyrolysis happens with a lack of oxygen it changes the molecules and separates the carbon. If this carbon (charcoal) is burned off it still will end up carbon neutral. But if the carbon (biochar) is put back into the soil it can last 2000 years, reducing CO2 and cleaning the atmosphere. This left over biochar is very porous; it holds moisture, nutrients and microorganisms which make the best soil amendment when added to compost.
Another reason we want to start with cook stoves is they can burn vetiver pellets that can be bagged and sold instead of charcoal to send to the cities. Once a village has enough vetiver hedgerows planted they can trim the grass 2-3 times a year getting tons of biomass. When dried it can be pressed into pellets and sold as fuel for TLUD stoves. Those who now cut trees and process charcoal will grow vetiver and process pellets. Those who transport and or sell dirty charcoal will transport and or sell clean pellets.
Yes, we want to find uses for vetiver so they grow more hedgerows but vetiver has the highest photosynthetic activity of any plant in the world according to Dr. Massimo Maffei of the University of Turin Italy. Many other plants produce more tons per acre but contain 50% more moisture. This grass will be more abundant than the pellets needed for stoves, eventually we want to use it for generators to electrify remote villages.
Our goal is for these students to see all the benefits of vetiver and other new technologies. They can then report to their communities. They will send more students to our next training courses which will be 3-step mountainside gardening, these students will get their communities to send more students to learn about it and start growing.
Projected funding method for stove student training and other self-sustaining student training courses:
There are thousands of small missionary type non-governmental groups that already help communities throughout Haiti.
We already know many of these groups who want business opportunities for the communities they help and will sponsor 5 students to send them to our TEACH fòmasyon center.
Sponsoring groups will pay for the student’s tuition (which pays for teachers’ salaries and centers expenses) and can assist if they want for students travel to and from Arcahaie. They will also provide a loan for the cost of material for first 50 stoves and tools they will need. They must let the people they select know this is a loan and they are expected to pay it back! Students must learn that business starts with a personal investment, theirs will be a fee that must be paid before they come that just covers their room and board which will be very low.
These community groups of 5 will work as a team: One specializing in business that will be in charge of their team’s inventory, sales and finance. The rest will be in assembly, construction and also in sales. They will all have knowledge of how the stove works bio-fuels and safety and demonstrate them.
At the end of the team’s 2 weeks of training, each group will receive TLUD stove certificates, 50 stove kits, and some tools they will transport with them back to their region. The stove kits will be given in form of a loan that must be repaid according to their sponsoring group. When they sell their original kits they must pay cash for the next order.
We must make our new businesses succeed so we will limit the number of groups in each region so they will have enough stove orders.
Introductory to TEACH and HRI on conservation using natural means, and permaculture design
Vetiver and how it is tied to all we do
Stoves and saving environment for future generations
Tour of vetiver nursery, composting humanure, protected vegetable nurseries with biochar and composted soils, rain catcher’s water collection and filtration
Demonstrate and use composting toilets, bio-sand water filters
Combustion chambers and stove training
Biomass fuels; processing, drying and storage, differences, types
Stove application; what people want, height, pots, burn time, and heat control
Business training; selling for profit, salesmanship
Alternative fuels, vetiver pellets,
Hands on stove training
How conservation ties with weather, moisture, clean air
Biochar’s ability to grow more food by holding moisture nutrients and microorganisms
Haiti Reconstruction Web Site continues to get hundreds of hits, people are learning about Vetiver.
We plan to start a Creole version where all the students can communicate with teachers, quality control people who make stove kits and other students to order more stove kits and make sure their businesses succeed.
If these businesses are successful the sponsoring organizations will love it and send more students for more new careers.
They will also learn the importance of vetiver hedgerows and pass the word.
Second Step: Need a mountainside TEACH Center
Vetiver Hedgerow Students Curriculum
Over all introductory to TEACH and HRI on conservation using natural means, permaculture design.
Vetiver and how it is tied to all we do
How to start a vetiver nursery,
1 Stop the erosion Vetiver hedgerows self-terracing, vetiver nursery
2 Replenish the soil and reforest Legumes, Benzolive, alley cropping, plants people need
3 Grow more food biochar & compost, drip irrigation, microorganisms
5 main principles to produce more food
Water, plant or animal food microorganisms, Better genetics, Control insects weeds diseases, Head start and new practices
Protected vegetable nurseries with biochar and composted soils,
Rain catcher’s water collection and filtration,
Demonstrate and use composting toilets, bio-sand water filters,
Biomass Fuels, processing, drying and storage, Differences, Types
Business training, Selling for profit, Salesmanship
Alternative fuels, Vetiver Pellets,
How conservation ties in our permaculture design and use of Biochar
When they have tons of vetiver we will start pellet production
We will train more students to make, package, transport, and sell vetiver pellets.
We will design smaller cook stove that uses only pellets that give more heat per capacity. We will accept students from urban areas to our stove program and assemble pellet model cook stoves.
Third Step: National Campaign to promote our programs
Once Demonstration plots and TEACH centers are perfected with all of our partners, we invite the president and publicity internationally to see our projects.
Vetiver hedgerows once planted will be a considered a national treasure protected for food security, independence, and commerce, can be trimmed for clean cooking fuel, composting and energy
TEACH centers will be promoted by the government and in schools
A 3 year plan should be made by the government warning owners who have land that is eroded and degraded and not capable of growing crops. Landowners must attempt or have someone for them plant vetiver hedgerows and/or trees. If not they may get notice and lose their land to highest bidders willing to improve it by government specifications.
Anyone may notify the government of degraded and barren land that no one is farming or conserving. The government checks it out and will then notify the land owner. If the land owner is not willing to save it can be repossessed by the government if the owner doesn’t respond with a plan or attempt to improve it after the one year of notice. It will be given up for bid, winner starts plans to plant immediately and after 3 years of successfully planted vetiver hedgerows making terraces by government specifications it will be the new owner’s property.
Other possible future student TEACH programs for businesses
Composting toilets and fertilizer businesses
Building construction, composting bins and vetiver hedgerow protection from runoff
Dry chopped vetiver leaves for carbon sequestering, green vetiver table scrap manure content thermophilic heating, bacteria, urine saturated Biochar. Mixing soil, treated compost and biochar for protected nurseries and gardens, live fences, vetiver hedge protection, double digging and soil amending, drip irrigation
Vetiver pellet business
Drying chopping pelletizing bagging distributing
Benzolive (moringa) powder business
Grow Benzolive for cutting on the mountainsides dry and grind powder for vitamins
Rain Catchers water saving system, irrigation and clean filtered water businesses
Constructing water reservoirs, water catchments,
DC water Pumps and water filters for villages clean water supply
Drip irrigations systems
Clean water business for remote areas
Water filtration systems for villages
Bio-sand filters for remote households
Fruit and nut tree grafting nursery business
Improved trees for mountainsides
Legumes benzolive neem tree oils and systemic insecticides
Grafting sour orange roots to improved citrus Microorganisms, insecticides, weed control
Bamboo farming, harvesting, treating lumber business
Passive solar lighting & recycling business
Natural soap making business
Safe Haitian soaps that won’t hurt eco-system
Safe fancy Haitian soaps for exporting
Aquaponics and hydroponics gardens
Tilapia fish tanks, green house, vermiculture, benzolive and leucaena leaves
Rabbit business Chicken business
Dairy goat business Pig farm business
Biogas digester, City toilet / fuel business