Synergistically combine tissue culture & biodigestion to tackle environmental degradation and haphazard waste management
Haiti is confronting heavy environmental degradation mainly due to energy precariousness, haphazard agricultural practices and municipalities’ incapacity to properly manage solid wastes. As a matter of fact, 72 % of energy needs for domestic consumption are covered by charcoal, causing the loss of 40 million trees yearly and the devastation of 84% of the watersheds. Increasing afforestation is exposing the lives of thousands of people to natural disasters such as hurricanes and floods. Not just this uncollected waste from communities is resulting in respiratory and gastric diseases. This is mainly because the municipalities are equipped to collect only 30 percent of the generated waste.
We propose a multi-phased project to concomitantly address the issues of waste collection, soil degradation, and afforestation. We aim to couple two biotechnological applications, (1) biodigestion to transform organic waste into biogas and biofertilizer, and (2) tissue culture to support the massive production of saplings. This multi-faceted project is designed in such a way that it is embedding the concept of integrated sustainability. Our first action will address the major problem of waste collection. Through a partnership with the local government and leaders, a Community Activation Program (CAP) will be instituted in cities to collect waste from households. Next, we will build the first commercial tissue culture laboratory in Haiti to massively produce saplings of vanilla, fruit/woody trees, and food staples crops. Based on a legal agreement with farmers organizations, the in-vitro produced saplings along with technical support will be provided to aid reforestation and soil protection. In addition, we will introduce vanilla saplings to the existing cocoa farms and provide technical assistance to cocoa farmers for maintaining these co-plantations. Ultimately, we will implement sustained agroforestry practices to prevent soil erosion caused by hillside agriculture.
Is this proposal for a practice or a project?
What actions do you propose?
The actions we propose will be taken through the implementation of a project planned in four phases :
- Phase 1-Create a Community Activation Program within the municipalities to foster the waste collection
The Community Action Program is primarily intended to instate behavioral changes in the communities for more effective management of waste in the municipalities. It will address the problem of waste management in the relevant communities by setting up a scope of collaboration between our action team, local government, and public opinion leaders. An action team composed of one Field Manager and one Community Facilitator will be recruited and assigned to each targeted community. The Field Manager and Community Facilitator will contact and meet with elected officials, civic leaders, respected leaders and networked leaders of the community. Then, in each community, a permanent Waste Collection Committee of five (5) members will be formed with municipal officials and local leaders. The committee will team up with the Field Manager and the Community Facilitator to activate, educate and energize the community. An outreach program including events, training sessions, seminars, and mass media campaigns will be launched to incentivize the communities about how to manage and sort waste. The Field Manager and the Community Facilitator will guide and encourage Waste Collection Committee to set standards of cleanliness and sanitation for their community. Trash bags will be distributed to households to store the generated solid waste. Then a weekly municipal-run waste collection system will be instituted. Since the waste will already be sorted at a household’s level therefore, organic materials will be channeled to our facility.
- Phase 2: Settle a solar-and-biogas-powered Tissue Culture Laboratory and Nursery
The implementation of the Community Activation Program and the institution of the municipal-run waste collection system will provide a steady and reliable supply of organic waste to run our biodigester. The latter will process the municipal collected waste into biogas and biofertilizer. The produced biogas in conjunction with solar panels will serve to power our tissue culture laboratory and nursery, whereas the biofertilizer will be used both as a substrate to grow our plantlets and an organic soil improver for agroforestry farms and degraded lands (fig 2). These plantations and nursery producing the expendable organic waste can be channeled back to the biodigester. Thus, this system can provide synergistic feed-forward streams for both the systems and can pave the way for more sustainable resource management while minimizing waste.
The tissue culture laboratory and nursery are primarily intended to facilitate the rapid propagation and multiplication of stock plant material (vanilla, banana, cassava, yam, sweet potatoes, etc.). In contrary to seed and vegetative propagation methods, plant tissue culture technique has great commercial potential because it permits rapid multiplication of genetically homogeneous saplings, a year-round production and space optimization. It is also an effective technique to produce disease-free plantlets and multiply difficult-to-propagate species such as vanilla. This facility can empower the farmers to work with high revenue crops which are currently not widely available in Haiti. High revenue crops will not only improve the living standards but will also usher the adoption of highly sustainable practices when done in the proposed strategic manner.
- Phase 3: Sustain agroforestry practices on existing cocoa farms
It is estimated that more than 75% of Haiti’s cover forest harbor species of practical use planted by farmers. For instance, the farmers are acutely aware that plants canopy is necessary for the sustainable production of cocoa and the crop is an important source of cash income. Therefore, cocoa farmers have put into place an agroforestry system called “jaden lakou”. This system is primarily based on cocoa production but also contains fruit trees such as avocado and citrus; food staple crops such as banana, potato, yam, and cassava; and woody trees. Besides being central to agriculture by providing farmers a diversified source of income, food security, and wood, these types of gardens are also well fit to address the issue of land and water degradation.
Technical assistance to cocoa farmers-This project component has the objectives to maintain and preserve the existing agroforestry farms based on cocoa production and establish new agroforestry plots on slopes for soil protection. To increase the productivity of the existing agroforestry farms, technical assistance will be provided to cocoa farmers for plots maintenance. This set of technical supports will encompass under brushing, pruning of cocoa trees, shade and pest management, the addition of an organic amendment to renew soil nutrient, regeneration, and replanting of cocoa trees.
Introduction of vanilla in cocoa farms- In collaboration with the organization and association of farmers, vanilla will be introduced in cocoa farms. A feasibility study conducted by Vanilla Export Company in Haiti has determined that vanilla is a viable small-farmer cash crop that can be commercially produced in Haiti. It has also determined that vanilla could be readily incorporated into existing cocoa plantations using cocoa trees as support tutors for vanilla vines; thus, creating additional sources of on-farm income for rural families. However, according to the same study, a sustained and constant source of vanilla seedlings is the main hurdle to overcome. The tissue culture facility is intended to support the massive production and distribution of robust and healthy of vanilla saplings to facilitate the introduction of vanilla in as many cocoa farms as possible (fig3). In addition, as the main purposes of agroforestry farms are to generate income and set food on the farmers’ table, disease-resistant, high-yield and in-vitro produced saplings of locally cultivated species such as cocoa, avocado, breadfruit, and food staples crops (banana, yam, cassava, and sweet potato) will be distributed to support the production.
- Phase 4: Distribute in-vitro produced saplings to incorporate agroforestry into hillside farming
With the purpose to limit lands’ erosion, conserve water and improve soil fertility, a great number of in-vitro produced plantlets of local species including wood and fruit trees, food staple crops, and cocoa trees accompanied by technical assistance will be provided to hillside farming practitioners. The project aims to increase the productivity of many hillside farms by initiating a commonly used agroforestry practice called Alley Cropping. Alley cropping or hedgerow intercropping is an agroforestry practice in which perennial, usually leguminous trees or shrubs are grown simultaneously with an arable crop. This cropping system will be adapted to the farmers and the market needs. It will be designed with specific trees (acacia, catalpa, Leucaena, among others) and crops in a way to improve on-going seasonal cropping performance, restore soil fertility, control water flow, supply forage to the livestock, provide biomass for cooking and increase hillside farmers income.
Who will take these actions?
Project overhead- The project will be led by a private business based in Haiti called PRODHASA in collaboration with a group of experts in tissue culture. The company has extensive experience supporting farmers in Haiti to commercialize agricultural commodities by connecting them to customers in the local markets. Since 2015, PRODHASA is working diligently to initiate biotechnology as a pillar to support sustainable development in Haiti.
- Key partners for the Waste Community Activation Program
PRODHASA- Build action teams composed of Field managers and Community Facilitators to connect PRODHASA with local authorities and leaders, building waste collection committees, assess the waste context in relevant communities, manage field activities, assist the collection and sorting organic waste along with the local government, lead outreach activities, monitor and evaluate the program.
Local government (municipal officials)- Participate in Community Activation Program as a member of the waste collection committee, facilitate connection with the community, lead waste collection, provide for facilities (trucks, bins) to collect waste, actively assist outreach activities, establish and maintain standards of cleanliness in communities
Public opinion leaders - Facilitate connection between PRODHASA and local communities, participate in Waste Collection Committee, actively assist outreach program, establish and maintain standards of cleanliness in communities
- Key partners for the settlement of the Tissue Culture Laboratory and Nursery
PRODHASA- Raise funds to build biogas unit & tissue culture laboratory and nursery; manage the transformation of organic into biogas and biofertilizer, coordinate plantlets production and marketing, recruit and train technical team
Biodigester suppliers- PRODHASA has already partnered with two biodigester suppliers to provide technical support for the implementation of our biogas plant
Funding Partners- Provide for funds, physical capital (materials and equipment). We intend to establish a partnership with the University of Florida/Tropical research and education center (TREC) for matters related to research and materials/equipment for the tissue culture lab.
- Stakeholders that will collaborate to sustain agroforestry in cocoa farms/hillside
PRODHASA- Supply plantlets and technical assistance to cocoa farmers, build an action team to incentivize farmers, connect farmers with local and international market.
Farmers organization- Connect to local farmers, assist sensibilization
Local NGO- Non-profit organization including ACTED, CECI, CRS, CVSF, USAID among others that are working in the cocoa sector and promote sustained agroecosystem.
Authors’ contribution- Paul Obed will collaborate with the overall management of the project, participate in funds raising and manage partnerships. Vovener de Verlands EDMOND will help implement and manage the tissue culture unit.
Where will these actions be taken?
For the component of the project about the Community Activation Program to foster waste collection, we are targeting the city of Cap Haitien located in the northern part of Haiti. Cap Haitien is the second largest agglomeration in Haiti with a population of 356 908 inhabitants. Several studies conducted[6,7] in the city have determined a dominance of organic matter for household solid waste; therefore, adopting biodigestion and composting as treatment methods for household solid waste are deemed to be the most convenient for a sustainable development perspective. We will commence a pilot phase for our Community Activation Program with 15000 low- and middle-income households in Cap Haitien. The waste collection committee will build a master list of residents; then in collaboration with the municipality, we will collect the generated waste and channel the organic portion to our facility to be processed.
Our plan is to cover all the cocoa production area in Haiti estimated at around 16000ha (MARNDR, 2012). We will start a pilot phase to introduce vanilla in existing cocoa farms in a city located 16 miles away from Cape Haitian. Currently, vanilla production is being experienced by farmers in Limbe at a relatively low scale and more farmers are interested to get involved. However, there is no existing nursery in the area that is producing vanilla plantlets to support and extend the crop’s production. Our tissue culture laboratory and nursery are intended to fill that gap by providing disease-resistant and high yield vanilla saplings to expand the production of vanilla in Haiti starting from Limbe.
Also, we aim to promote agroforestry practices for soil protection, fertility restoration, water conservation and farmers lives’ improvement in the mountainous regions in the southern part of Haiti. These regions are crucial to the Haitian environment because they harbor protected areas and are very vulnerable to natural disasters especially floods and hurricanes. One of these regions, Grand-Anse, is a bastion of cocoa farming. Thousands of farmers rely on cocoa crops for subsistence and the crop is representing 60% of their total income. In 2016, Grand-Anse has vastly been affected by Hurricane Matthew and remains vulnerable to natural disasters. Moreover, many cocoa farms have been destroyed and several long-established lands, where agroforestry was being practiced, are now uncovered. This initiative will contribute to rehabilitate the existing farms, reestablish destroyed farms and create new farms by providing farm-related services, agricultural supplies (compost) and plantlets. We are mainly targeting the cities of Anse d’Hainault, Chambellan, Dame Marie and Les Irois where most of the cocoa farms are located.
In addition, specify the country or countries where these actions will be taken.
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What impact will these actions have on greenhouse gas emissions and/or adapting to climate change?
In tropical and humid regions, the total carbon storage rate by agroforestry practices is around 1.5-3.5 Mg/ha. We will provide plantlets and technical assistance to cocoa farmers to maintain agroforestry practices and prevent the destruction of existing cocoa farms. For the first five years, we aim to sustain and monitor cocoa farming on at least 500 ha. We will thereby maintain the storage of 750-1 750 metric tons of CO2 on the existing agroforestry system. We intend to increase our impact by increasing the number of preserved cocoa farms every year. Assuming that 1ha of the agroforestry system can save 5 ha from deforestation, and as we intend to cover every year 500 ha of cocoa farms established in the agroforestry system. We will save 2 500 ha from deforestation for the first five years.
Furthermore, the decomposition of uncollected waste results in the emission of methane (a greenhouse gas). Also, the incineration of waste, which is very common in Haiti, is emitting CO2. Our strategy to collect and transform waste will contribute to reducing the amount of methane and CO2 emitted from decomposition and incineration.
What are other key benefits?
Reducing greenhouse gases that are emitted from waste, fostering the use of renewable energy, and promoting a sustainable agricultural system are the desired outcomes that we are looking forward to obtaining by our actions. We aim at increasing the resilience of vulnerable cities in Haiti to natural disasters by instating agroforestry on hillside lands and sustain agroforestry practices on cocoa farms to reduce soil erosion, watershed degradation, and flooding.
We are also working to demote farmers’ economic vulnerability by restoring hillside agricultural plots fertility, introducing vanilla as a cash crop to increase farmers’ income, and providing sustained technical assistance to farmers’ organizations. Our proposal perfectly aligns with the Haiti Intended Nationally Determined Contribution (INDC) according to which the government seeks to implement around 60 000 ha of agroforestry ecosystem to be restored and extended.
What are the proposal’s projected costs?
Biogas plant cost-The The estimated capital cost for the construction of the assemble biogas plant is 150 000 USD. The biogas system is primarily intended to power the tissue culture laboratory and nursery and provide biofertilizer to sustain our production activities. It has the capacity to convert 2.30 tons of organic waste per day into 420 kWh of electricity and 480 kg of organic biofertilizer. Feedstock preparation, power generation, and output recovery are integrated into the system.
Laboratory and Nursery cost- an investment of ~100 000 US is needed to settle the tissue culture laboratory and nursery. The biogas-and-solar powered unit will have a total production capacity of 500 000 plantlets yearly.
Profit analysis- Our revenue stream mainly consists of the sales of plantlets and cured vanilla beans from the farmers. Nevertheless, some extra cash is expected by the sales of fertilizer bags to farmers. For the first year, 100 000 plantlets are expected to be sold at an average price of 3-5 USD. The first year of production is regarded as a pilot phase that seeks to generate 300 000 - 500 000 USD. In the second year, we intend to increase our production to 200 000 saplings yearly then double our revenue. After 5 years, we expect to increase our production to 400 000 saplings and our source of revenue by selling vanilla beans to the national and international markets.
Risk analysis- Waste collection in communities requires major behavioral changes and strengthening of waste management policy in the targeted cities. These major changes take time to be established. We seek to mitigate this challenge by putting into place a solid structure to incentivize, educate and secure the maintenance of cleanliness standards in the communities. Moreover, we will collaborate with the local government to instate a robust waste management policy. Waste collection will also be dependent on the municipal facilities (trucks, bins, workforce, among others). Any failure in the system may affect our production activities. To overcome this risk, we are planning to have a long-term agreement with the local government and a backup system for waste collection and transportation.
Tissue culture technique requires highly qualified personnel; therefore, we are collaborating with a group of Haitian tissue culture experts that we will oversee the implementation of our tissue culture unit, administer our operations, develop protocols for our lab and train our personnel.
Agroforestry takes time to be established. We will maintain and sustain the seasonal cropping by supplying disease-resistant and high-yield plantlets to the farmers. We will also work with local and national government to define more policies related to agroecosystem and food production that can help farmers with the restoration, valorization and the extension of agroforestry system.
Short term impact (1-15 years):
The first three (3) years will be devoted to piloting, assessment studies, partnerships establishment, and settlement of our facilities. We commence our field activities in the fourth year.
During the initial five (5) years after settlement (4-9 years):
- A strong public-private partnership with the local government of Cap Haitien will contribute to the adoption of new policies for waste management in the municipality
- Community Activation Program will instill behavioral changes within the communities of Cap Haitien for proper waste sorting and disposal
- In partnership with the municipality of Cap Haitien, we will reduce the amount of waste that ended up in the streets by collecting 3 tons of house solid waste daily
- Contribute to improving agricultural productivity by providing technical assistance and a massive number of vanilla plantlets to cocoa farmers in Limbé and other cities of the northern part of Haiti
- Increase farmers income by introducing vanilla into cocoa farms and connecting them to the local and international market
- Tackle food insecurity by improving and expanding the production of food staple crops such as banana, yam, cassava and other local crops.
From 10-15 years: We will launch our activities in Grand’Anse. Another laboratory will be built in Dame Marie. Also, we will increase our biogas plant capacity in other to process more waste.
- 26 additional tons of waste is expected to be collected from 25 000 families in Cap Haitien
- Biofertilizer issued from our biogas plant will be sold to farmers to improve soil fertility and agricultural plots productivity
- Sequestrate 11 250 26 250 metric tons of CO2 by promoting agroforestry practices
- Shift behavioral changes of 500 000 people by instating our Community Activation Program in the Metropolitan Region of Portau-Prince
From Medium-term (15-50 years) to Long-term (50-100 years):
We will work diligently to expand our actions throughout Haiti. We plan to:
- Community Activation Program to reach out to 350 municipalities in Haiti
- Increase waste collection rate from 30% to 100 % in the overall municipalities of Haiti
- Replace charcoal with biogas by establishing several biogas plants to transform organic waste
- Cover 16 000 hectares of agroforestry system with cocoa and vanilla.
- Increase forestation in Haiti and limit the impact of natural disasters (floods, hurricane, soil erosion)
- Improve soil and water conservation by restoring vegetation on watersheds
About the author(s)
This proposal has been edited by :
Vovener de Verlands Edmond, the manager of our Tissue Culture Unit, is currently completing a master’s degree in Horticulture Science at the University of Florida where he is working on the development of a biotechnology tool to improve breeding in Vanilla. Before this, he was an Urban planner in a UN-Habitat project implemented in the City hall of Croix-des-Bouquets and then worked in a UNDP project and a European Union project at the Ministry of Environment as a Technical Advisor in adaptation to climate change. He participated in different international negotiations for his country on climate change and specifically the one that leads to the “Paris agreement on climate change in 2015”.
Paul Obed Dumersaint is an agronomist with extensive years of experience in project elaboration and management. He also worked in agricultural and environmental projects for the low-income groups where he mainly performed field coordination, project evaluation, and several assessment studies. As for achievement, he has developed an innovative concept on how to use applications such as biodigestion, bioenergy, tissue culture techniques to simultaneously improve parts of agriculture, environment, and energy. This concept has been selected by the International Organization of Francophonie as one approach to generating greens jobs in the francophone sphere. It has also won the Diaspora Challenge Initiative, a contest arranged by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), as one of the best business ideas for the development of Haiti. In this project, Paul Obed will manage the partnership, coordinate field activities.
- Programme des Nations Unis pour l’Environnement et al (2010). « GEO Haïti, Etat de l’environnement et perspectives »
- Country statistics and global health estimates by WHO and UN partners. For more information visit the Global Health Observatory http://who.int/gho/mortality_burden_disease/en/
- Samentha Brangeon, February 2015, « La gestion des déchets des acteurs de l’aide, Etude de cas : Haïti »
- Haitian 2nd National communication on climate changes
- Plan National d'investissement agricole
- Haiti INDC (https://www.ctc-n.org/sites/www.ctc-n.org/files/UNFCCC_docs/cpdn_republique_dhaiti.pdf)