PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti -- Haiti was once a major global supplier of coffee and its government is determined to help it regain that stature.
Haiti recently hosted its first International Coffee Summit, organized by the William J. Clinton Foundation. The event aimed to support local growers and discuss ways to promote and expand the Haitian coffee industry abroad.
Haiti's Minister of the Interior, Thierry Mayard-Paul, emphasized coffee's ties to the country's history and culture. He also reaffirmed agriculture's strategic importance in president Michel Martelly's plan to invigorate the economy.
"Coffee is one of the many areas where we are looking for partnerships, joint ventures and other collaborations, and we are ready to do everything we can to help facilitate this important engagement," said Mayard-Paul. He also addressed how, as part of a larger agricultural plan, Haitian coffee could play a significant role not only in economic development, but also in promoting decentralization and job creation in rural areas.
Also in attendance were representatives from Haiti's National Coffee Association, Haitian cooperatives and growers associations. International stakeholders were invited to provide their insights on how to gain access to new markets and promote Haitian coffee globally.
According to a recent article in the Miami Herald, beans from Haiti's Gwo Chwal region once sold for 30¢ a pound. Now, Japanese roasters are buying these quality beans for $5.50 (a pound). In addition, Cafe Cocano farmers from Haiti's Port-de-Paix are expecting to double exports of their organically grown coffee, already for sale on the Internet and in Italian espresso shops.