27 May May 2014 1154 27 May 2014

Towards EXPO 2015: processing agricultural products in Haiti to produce energy for life

On May 16th the processing unit for agricultural products of the Catholic University of Haiti “Université Notre-Dame d’Haiti” (UNDH) was inaugurated in the framework of the AQUAPLUS project carried out by a successful partnership of key actors: Rotary International, EXPO 2015, Unicredit Foundation, University of Milan,  World Food Poegram, MLFM and AVSI Foundation. The project aims to strengthen the Haitian supply chain in order to address food insecurity in the country and to create a best practice for EXPO 2015.  The processing unit includes a workshop and an experimental production lab for students with milling and roasting facilities and test equipment to ensure quality and safety.

The ceremony took place at the UNDH, in Les Cayes, Municipality of Torbeck, at the presence of Cardinal bishop Chibly Langlois, who blessed the processing unit.
On the occasion, Mgr. Pierre-André Pierre, rector of the UNDH, claimed that this processing unit allows the university to realize its dream: being at the service of the most marginalized communities of the country through the three pillars of its mission: learning, studying and serving.  Moreover, Mgr. Pierre claimed that this will also help to revalue local products, especially those derived from cassava, and invited Haitian people to start working to find proper solutions for a new Haiti. The rector praised  the partnership between UNDH and the University  of Milan which has been supporting the Haitian Catholic University to go beyond this important stage of its history.
Piermarco Romagnoli, Aquaplus project manager, reaffirmed the will of Rotary International to support the Haitian economic development through this intervention. He also stressed the key role played by the participation and commitment of the local community to ensure efficiency and sustainability of project actions. 
Alberto Piatti, President of AVSI Foundation, highlighted the importance to partner with Civil Society Organisations, such as AVSI, who covers the “last mile”, acting as the necessary link between the social infrastructure that provides goods and services (private or public) and the single person who is often not reached. According to him, investing in human dignity is the best action to feed people. Moreover, Alberto Piatti claimed that stability lies in the dignity of human beings aware of their conditions.
Gladys Mexil Guiteau, Commissioner General of Haiti for Expo Milano 2015, showed interest and approval for integrated projects to help Haiti break the socio-economic impasse which is affecting the country. She invited Haitian people to become  protagonists of their future and took the occasion to announce that Haitian products will be showcased in a special pavilion during the EXPO 2015 in Milan.
Jean Jacques DébalioDepartmental Director for the South of the Ministry of Agriculture, encouraged the fight against food insecurity in the country. According to him, the liberalization of the Haitian market after 1986 (democraticbambocheby Henry Namphy) has led the country to an economic dependency that is without precedent.
Students and local farmers reached by the project expressed their satisfaction and thanked all the actors involved in the partnership who gave their support for the implementation of the different stages of the project.
AVSI’s presence in Haiti began in 1999 with a 5-year programme to support the newly created School of Agronomy at the Catholic University of Haiti (UNDH) in the southern city of Les Cayes.
In 2004, AVSI activities in Haiti expanded to the capital Port-au-Prince, specifically to two critical neighborhoods, Cité Soleil and Martissant, both shanty towns sadly renowned for their poverty, violence and insecurity.
Today, AVSI is engaged with several projects in the fields of agriculture, nutrition, water, environment, education, psychosocial support and vocational training.
Read the article on Le Nouvelliste