Monday, January 2, 2006
BON REPOS, Haiti — Every morning, Nicolas Jean rises before dawn to milk his cow on his scruffy sliver of land. Then he pours the milk into plastic jugs, saddles up his horse and trots 2 1/2 hours along bumpy back roads to deliver the precious white liquid to a project that inspires hope for Haiti’s shattered economy.
Jean’s destination is a microplant for L?t Agogo (Haitian Creole for “Milk Galore”), a franchise that makes yogurt and milk drinks.
Launched by a Haitian non-profit, farm-aid organization, L?t Agogo is widely touted as a model for economic development because it delivers on three fronts: increasing profits for poor dairy farmers, boosting domestic food production and combating malnutrition.
By delivering milk themselves to L?t Agogo’s 10 microplants around the country, farmers fetch a higher price than they’d get from a middleman. Farmers also receive medical help for their cattle from Veterimed, the group that started the venture four years ago.
L?t Agogo’s workers participate in a profit-sharing system. And L?t Agogo drinks cost half what their imported counterparts do, making them far more accessible in a country where three-fourths of people live on less than $2 a day.
“It’s a comprehensive, socially responsible approach to helping Haiti’s most marginalized populations,” said Michel Chancy, director of Veterimed, which continues to oversee the venture.