Why Invest in Agriculture and Agribusiness in Haiti?
- Growing demand for agricultural products in the local market, stemming from an increasing population, international and local food aid programs, and the hotel industry
- Exploitation of markets for organic and fair trade products
- Proximity to the U.S. market as well as the regional Caribbean and Latin American market
- Benefits under international trade agreements
- Topography and climate that enable extended growing seasons
The Haitian government has identified the revival and expansion of agricultural investments as key for rural local development, thus opening up new business opportunities in both production and processing for domestic and export markets.
The CFI works in close collaboration with the Unité de Promotion de l’Investissement Privé dans le Secteur Agricole (Unit for the Promotion of Investment in the Agricultural Sector - UPISA) within the Ministry of Agriculture to provide relevant technical information and support to investors interestedin engaging in agriculture and agribusiness in Haiti.
In addition to bananas, cocoa, coffee, mangos, and sisal, which are highlighted in more detail below, priorities for private investment include:
- Sugar cane and derivative products
- Roots and tubers
- Cereals (maize, sorghum, rice)
- Garden produce such as pigeon peas, tomatoes, cucumbers, peppers, aubergines, and okra
- Fruits such as avocados, citrus fruits, cashews, tamarinds, and coconuts
- Chickens (with an internal demand of US$ 200 million per year)
- Eggs (with an internal demand of 400 million eggs per year)
Haiti enjoys several advantages as a platform for exports: Its proximity to the United States enables producers to get agricultural products to U.S. markets quickly. Moreover, as one of the ACP (African, Caribbean and Pacific) countries, Haiti enjoys duty-free and quota-free preferential access to the European Union markets for most products. Under the Generalized System of Preferences (GSP), Haiti also enjoys international trade benefits under WTO rules, including for agricultural goods. The Bali Accord further supports the increase of Haiti’s duty-free and quota-free access alongside other least-developed countries worldwide.
In addition to business opportunities in export markets, there is also significant potential to serve an expanding domestic market. The national population of over 10 million is growing and the country is urbanizing. As economic growth takes hold and leads to greater employment and urban purchasing power, demand for more and better quality foodstuffs and agricultural products will only rise.
Other Haitian advantages are the country’s topography and climate, which combine to create a variety of microclimates. This means, for example, that Haitian export mango cultivation extends over a five-month season compared to the two or three month mango harvest seasons in competing countries.
Haiti has a 200-year tradition of growing mainly Arabica coffee under agro-ecological conditions well suited for producing quality organic coffee that commands premium international prices. Much, if not all, of Haiti’s coffee is grown without use of chemical inputs. The country currently produces roughly 18 million kilograms annually, but aims to increase that amount, both to serve the domestic market – which currently absorbs 65% of the country’s production – and to increase exports.
While REBO and Geo Wiener are the major coffee exporting firms, other smaller enterprises are getting Haitian coffee into new markets, including Walmart, a major U.S. retailer.
Haiti is one of the largest mango producers in the world, with about 10 million mango trees. Yet there is still vast potential for additional growth in production of fresh and dried mangos in Haiti, particularly given the steadily increasing global demand for the products. Currently, only around 10 percent of production is the export-quality Madame Francis variety. To overcome this limitation and help serve the international market, initiatives are under way to upgrade existing Haitian mango trees through grafting as well as the introduction of new varieties of commercial trees. Improved transportation conditions also help facilitate access to markets.
Haitian criollo cocoa beans are cultivated without chemical additives (there are no in-country cocoa pests or diseases) and are highly prized for their exceptional flavor by pastry companies and high-end chocolatiers of luxury chocolate brands. As leading food companies are committed to sourcing their cocoa from sustainable producers, and craft chocolate makers are seeking new sources of fine and aromatic cocoa, niche markets that Haiti’s organic cocoa can serve will continue to expand.
Currently, most beans grown in Haiti are sold and exported in a raw, unprocessed and unfermented state that does not meet the volumes or standards needed to connect meaningfully with brokers and their markets. The low volumes and quality have meant low returns for producers and their cooperatives.
But this is changing. FECCANO (a federation of six cooperatives in the north) and one cooperative in Grand-Anse are producing and exporting fermented cocoa beans to specialty buyers, as well as selling to powerhouse REBO. As this accounts for less than 5 percent of national exports, working with farmers to get processed and fermented cocoa to market constitutes an area of significant opportunity.
The Léogane region, just south of Port-au-Prince, and the Arcadins Coast in the west are traditional areas of banana production with well-watered fertile soils and a good climate. Haiti exported bananas until the late 1940s, after which time all production has supplied the local market. Today, the government is working to increase production for domestic consumption and, in particular, for export.
A number of investments are already underway. Haiti Originale, with technical and logistical support from the Dole Food Company, is mounting a US$ 45 million growing and packing operation based in the Léogane region to supply national and export markets. Another development is the US$ 27 million project in the Trou-du-Nord commune, which will bring together over 3,000 Haitian farmers from different associations to produceorganic bananas for export.
Essential oils, one of Haiti’s most important agricultural exports, were worth an estimated US$ 15.7 million in 2013. Haiti has favorable climatic and land conditions in the north department for the production of bitter oranges used for Grand Marnier and Cointreau production. Vetiver oil, extracted from the vetiver perennial grass, is used for medicinal purposes, cosmetics and perfumes. Haiti is the largest exporter of vetiver oil in the world, with Agri-Supply Co. SA in Les Cayes being Haiti’s largest producer.
Sisal was an important commercial crop throughout World War II and until the 1970s when Haiti lost its competitive edge due to the introduction of synthetic fibers. Projects are now underway to reignite the country’s production of sisal and sisal products. SISALCO, a Haitian company, is one example, working to increase output from the Côtes-de-Fer, in the south, where most sisal is currently produced, and to expand production in new regions in north and northeast Haiti.
Its US$ 5 million project envisages up to 4,000 hectares under sisal production, with 1,000 hectares worked by the company and another 3,000 hectares by small producers receiving technical assistance and selling their semiprocessed product to SISALCO. With its new factory in the Caracol Industrial Park, SISALCO will use sisal fibers to produce coffee sacks for REBO as well as other sisal products for a strong and growing export market.
How can CFI assist you?
The CFI actively supports investors during all stages of their investment decision-making process. Its dedicated, skilled and professional staff is available to deliver specialized services including:
- Supplying general and customized reports on investment opportunities in Haiti, as well as information relating to the relevant legal and regulatory frameworks and processes
- Facilitating visits to Haiti by potential investors and arranging suitable meetings, including with government agencies and organizations in Haiti that could support the investment process
- Facilitating identification of suitable sites for a proposed investment project
- Helping to ensure smooth entry and establishment of an investment project, through the provision of information and assistance with acquiring permits and licenses, as well as with business registration processes
- Providing information on relevant Haiti-based consulting services and suppliers
- Offering aftercare services to established investors to support a smooth business operating environment as well reinvestment and development plans in Haiti
- Supporting investors seeking to benefit from Haiti’s fiscal incentives regime.