Thursday, May 23, 2013

Coffee Production: A Haiti Volunteer's Experience

As an experienced specialist in crop production and farming systems for sustainable agriculture, Jean Tsafack-Djiague joined the Farmer to Farmer program as a volunteer in Haiti, helping local communities of coffee producers. By creating short and long term goals to overcome the challenges of coffee production, Jean drew on his past experiences. For over a decade he has empowered farmers to produce high quality market adapted products, in line with sustainable agricultural development. Having developed and implemented 38 integrated projects, Jean supports rural organizations by combining his knowledge of sustainable management of natural resources and organic production for foreign markets.

Jean (in khaki hat) discusses coffee production with farmers in Haiti
The son of a coffee producer, Jean has 7 hectares of land in Cameroon, which he uses for growing organic coffee. Faced with terrible coffee quality in the country, Jean worked with various people in the production chain, ultimately organizing growers into cooperatives, training them on organic production, and helping them get certified and sell their product in the U.S.

Volunteering in Haiti, Jean traveled from farm to farm, working with coffee producers on an individual basis. After conversing with them and understanding their difficulties, Jean trained the farmers in a group setting, providing knowledge on the production cycle of the coffee plant, reviewing production and protection aspects, and creating a set of possible strategic actions. He found that one issue many of the farmers face is the destruction of their plants due to "Eskolit Kafe" (Hypothenemus hampei), commonly known as the Coffee Berry Borer (CBB), an insect responsible for the loss of as much as 65% of Haiti's coffee crops. Due to Haiti's geographic location, it is increasingly affected by climate change, as rising temperatures contribute to CBB attacks on coffee. Jean and the Haitian coffee producers decided that shade is an effective method for not only protecting the crops from CBB, but also increasing yield production since the shade is agreeable to coffee plant growth. 

While in the mountainous town of Saut Mathurin, Jean visited several plantations before meeting with eleven farmers. Jean asked them to join a group of coffee farmers in Pico for a combined community training session. 97 coffee producers attended the meeting, creating a serious platform to discuss their shared challenges. Jean explains, "I saw different communities coming together as one person, pursuing one goal after my presentation. They finally voted and established a Reflection Committee of 9 persons to lead the project and move forward. Most importantly, I heard them saying: 'we are ready to start a new life with coffee production.'"

With fluency in French, an ability to bridge education levels, cultures, and backgrounds, and his passion for community development and knowledge of coffee production, Jean made a lasting impact on the Haitian people with whom he worked.


  1. Thank you POA and Jean for helping to take Haiti Coffee's efforts to the next level. Collaboration is the key to Haiti's future in coffee.
    Please join us in a cup of delicious Haitian Coffee and help spread the word about the True Taste of Haiti,

  2. This approach is fantastic and put farmers more comfortable to bring contribution on the table. I love the way they are doing it.

  3. Wow interesting article great volunteer experience

  4. world should share good ideas to grow ahead and create mutuality. Intresting post.