The Mighty Moringa Tree in Haiti

Haiti Moringa trees
The Moringa tree is well-known in Haiti for its medicinal and nutritional value.

This year, our Haitian partners at AMURT and the Local Capacity Alliance (LOCAL) have focused their Transformation de l’Environment Rural (TER) training on agroforestry, fruit trees, and Moringa. Hundreds of Haitian farmers in the northwest region of the country have learned diverse cultivation methods and utilization of the mighty Moringa tree, known in Haiti as d’olive, benzolive, or gabriel.

moringa-vs-common-foods
Source: http://moringaoleifera.com/nutrientcontent.html

According to AMURT, people have been very interested and enthusiastic about Moringa, which is well-known in the area for its medicinal and nutritional value.  Training sessions have focused on tree-care, harvest and simple processing of the leaf into Moringa powder. In the near future, experiments will begin on extraction of the Moringa oil, which also has multiple beneficial uses. Due to it’s high vitamin and mineral content, AMURT and LOCAL’s ultimate aim is to promote cultivation of Moringa as a nutritional supplement for families, for school meals and eventually as an export product from the economically challenged region.

Moringa powder
Moringa leaves can be ground into a fine powder and used as a nutritional supplement.

LOCAL’s Moringa Specialist, Daniel Isner, said “This training is a fundamental step in the projected establishment of a Haitian Moringa producers network, one that holds great potential in supplying Moringa leaves to booming global superfood/nutrition markets and to quality Moringa seed oil to a variety of markets, both here and abroad.”

farmer training
Farmer training promoting Moringa cultivation and agroforestry

Thanks to many generous donors, we have been able to support this very impactful project that is helping Haitian farmers earn an income while also protecting the land. As Demeter from AMURT recently commented, “It’s inspiring to see the partnership we started 7 years ago give such beautiful fruits – more than a million trees, 600 farmers organized in Self-Help Groups with more than 50,000 USD in savings, and a growing appreciation for “green” in this isolated NW corner of Haiti.”

Notes from the Field: Transforming Rural Environments in Haiti

 by Sharifa Bagalaaliwo, Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team

Haitian farmers

Located in the quiet and scenic Northwest region of Haiti – a small team is doing big things using holistic and sustainable methods to transform the rural landscape of the communes of Anse Rouge and Terre Neuve.

Since 2008 Transformation de l’Environment Rural (TER)/ Transformation of Rural Environment has been the brainchild of the Ananda Marga Universal Relief Team in Haiti (AMURT- Haiti). With the support of Trees Water & People (TWP), the TER project has been helping communities preserve the fragile ecological balance through grassroots initiatives focused on watershed protection, soil conservation, sustainable agro-forestry as well as integrated water management.

Exchange of tree nursery techniques, Hatte-Dimanche
Exchange of tree nursery
techniques, Hatte-Dimanche

But what are we talking about when we say environmental transformation?  For starters, our integrated approach relies on organizing Haitian farmers into Self-Help Group (SHG) structures, providing technical agro-forestry training and accompaniment, creating model demonstration parcels, and helping farmers save their own money, manage the self-generated funds and create micro-lending programs that allow them to rely less and less on external inputs. The SHG’s have registered savings of more than $1,500 USD per group!

As part of this integrated approach, AMURT-Haiti has also used support from TWP to transform plots of land into community demonstration garden parcels that are models of sustainable farming and watershed protection. The demonstration gardens are accompanying farmers to develop more sustainable methods they can practice in the model gardens and then take back to apply in their private yards and farms. Hand-in-hand with this, the TER program emphasizes collaborative leadership and autonomous initiatives through the Self-Help Group approach. This collaborative strategy includes the creation of tool and seed bank cooperatives (Boutique Agricoles). The Boutique Agricoles have made it easier for farmers to access essential materials and products locally saving them time and money, increasing self-sufficiency and keeping the focus on the environment and agriculture.

Rivier Forad tree nursery
Rivier Forad tree nursery

As partners of TWP, AMURT – Haiti is also proud to admit that something else that’s been hugely successful is our focus on tree planting. Over the last year, this partnership has led to the planting of approximately 100,000 trees in three villages with a special emphasis on Moringa. Tree nurseries set up in selected villages (Hatte -Dimanche, Ti Plas, Rivier Forad, and Gros Roch) have been the base of ongoing training and exchange opportunities between our tree nursery technicians, farmers, and the community. Growing community participation during annual tree planting days have shown us that there is a greater appreciation for trees, increased awareness of the need for tree planting and improved knowledge of planting techniques.

A SHG member plants Moringa trees
An SHG member plants Moringa trees in Northwest Haiti.

All in all it has been busy for AMURT – Haiti’s TER team and a fruitful and valued partnership with Trees Water & People. In the following months and year we are excited to continue working alongside TWP in Haiti to help strengthen local capacities and keep helping people and the planet.

Photo of the Week: Tree Nurseries Flourish in Guatemala

Guatemala tree nursery

About this photo

Our reforestation partners in Guatemala, La Asociación de Forestería Comunitaria de Guatemala Ut’z Che’have been very busy this year! Just in 2013, they have already planted 85,450 trees in 4 different communities throughout Guatemala, with more to be planted by the end of the year. Species planted include moringa, lemon, orange, pine, papaya, tamarind, noni, and guanaba.

These trees are important for both environmental protection and economic development. Local communities use these trees to improve watershed and soil health, as fruit orchards, and as future sources of timber and fine hardwood.

To learn more about our work in Guatemala please visit our website.