Haiti won its independence when former slaves rebelled and won against the French colonizing forces. On January 1st, 1804 Haiti, the first Black republic was founded. At a time when the new country was struggling to establish itself, France imposed a crushing debt on Haiti to compensate the slave owners for ‘losing’ their slaves and property.
The debt was so onerous, that it took Haitians until the 1950s, more than 125 years, to pay it off. It drained Haiti’s resources at a time when the new country needed them the most. According to experts and depending on what formula is applied, Haiti paid between $21 billion to $115 billion in today’s dollars.
This is the only instance in world history when former slave owners forced former slaves to pay for their freedom.
This, of course, had a debilitating effect on the Haitian economy. So, while next door Dominican Republic was developing its economy, Haitians were forced to pay France for their freedom.
It is important to note that of all the Caribbean colonies, Haiti was the biggest agricultural producer. It provided all the sugar consumed in Europe, was the world’s second-biggest coffee producer, and one of the biggest exporters of indigo and cacao. Today, Haiti is the world’s number one exporter of vetiver essential oil used in the high-end perfume industry.
Haitian farmers are capable of producing high-quality and high quantity crops. They need support and accompaniment, but that is egregiously lacking. This is why we emphasize the necessity to jointly establish five regional agricultural cooperatives that farmers own and manage. Their cooperatives will become their support systems.
Members of the cooperatives choose projects within the Talia Farms program that respond to their economic, environmental, and social needs.
Decades of experience taught us that to permanently eradicate poverty, those who live in it must do it themselves, but they don’t have to do it alone. This is why they have invited us to partner with them.
We support them, we invest in them, and we partner with them to create their own support systems, increase their agricultural production, open new markets, and improve their lives and livelihoods.