Three years ago, Timberland promised to plant 5 million trees in five years in Haiti. After teaming up with a local non-governmental organization, the Smallholder Farmers Alliance, Timberland has successfully planted 2.2 million trees in the rural region near Gonaives, Haiti. They are slated to plan a million more trees in 2013, 2014, and 2015.
“When this program began, our vision was to create a model that could be self-financing within a reasonable amount of time and would generate positive social, environmental and economic impact,” says Margaret Morey-Reuner, Timberland‘s senior manager of values marketing, in a statement. “The great results so far are a testament to the camaraderie, hard work and independence of these farmers as well as to this private sector, NGO and community stakeholder collaboration.”
According to the press release, the benefits of planting the trees have already been seen:
The Smallholder Farmers Alliance engaged a group of 2,000 small-scale farmers in the rural area near Gonaives, Haiti, and transformed the group into a for-profit agroforestry cooperative. After just three years of investment, the cooperative continues as a farmer-managed, self-financed operation. This innovation in “exit strategy aid,” which sets a time limit on external funding, tackles a key challenge faced by corporate organizations when getting involved in sustainability or disaster relief projects on the ground in developing nations.
The farmers volunteer their time to manage the tree nurseries and plant trees in return for agricultural services that result in increased crop yields of between 40 and 50 percent. These services provide high yield seed, training in crop management, in-field technical support and the good quality tools needed to produce higher yields of sorghum, beans, corn and other food items. Farmers sell their crops individually, but the cooperative supports them by paying for these continued services with the sale of excess trees from the farmer-run tree nurseries.