The Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) began in 2010 with a challenge from the global outdoor lifestyle brand Timberland to plant 5 million trees in Haiti in 5 years. The total number of trees planted to date is now well past 6 million and counting. In the SFA’s unique model, trees have become a form of agricultural bio-currency. For less than it would cost to grow the same trees commercially and hand them out for planting, the SFA is able to ‘pay’ farmers in the form of high quality crop seed, tools, training and other agricultural services including micro-finance loans for women farmers. Now some 3,000 farms continue to use tree planting to pay for agricultural inputs that result in increased crop yields averaging 40% and increased household income averaging 50%.
The next challenge is to scale up the SFA model - from 3,000 to 20,000 farms - and increase the impact on farmers by adding two high value export crops that will both be certified organic: cotton and moringa. The aim is that an additional 25 million new trees will be planted over the course of this 5-year incubation period, past which tree planting will be ongoing and entirely self-financed as part of the agroforestry enterprise model. In scaling its original agroforestry model, the SFA is pioneering an entirely new kind of supply chain that will connect the small plot farmers of Haiti directly to global markets while at the same time expanding local food production. The SFA is seeking assistance from the Capstone team to analyze and provide recommendations on two pillars key to the success of its future scale up – optimal legal and financing structure and data management system.