Friday, January 18, 2013

First Look at Business Progress

The hen house has been operational for over 9 months and this is the first time I've had the chance to see the progress.  Honestly, I was expecting the worst.  After all I'd heard of sickness, heat, decreasing egg prices, moldy feed, increased feed costs, etc. I wasn't sure what I'd be faced with walking back across the river to Kanpech.  Luckily, I was pleasantly surprised. 

The building looked the same, there were hens clucking and walking around inside, there was clorinated water to greet me upon my arrival - all looked well.  I was very impressed with how the local agronomist took the initiative to build a separate small house to quarantine ill birds, started two compost piles for the disposal of litter, planted trees along the border of the property to keep the area cool, and even started a small tree nursery on one side to grow moringa - a tree with great vitamin value in the leaves.  Any doubt I had about the management of this place during my absence was washed away.  Guy-Marie and his staff were on top of things, brain storming solutions to each and every problem that came their way.  A truly Haitian attitude...

Unfortunately, there were still issues that needed to be addressed on a larger scale.  The road leading out of the river and up the side of the bank to the hen house had gotten worse since my last visit.  With each rain, the banks were slowly eroded away, washing out the road as well as the neighbors' gardens.  This will be our next major focus - to reinforce the riverbank with gabions and reconstruct the road.  We have always directed our projects tailored to community needs and desires.  And this is a true need. 

The second challenge that we will need to tackle is the production of local feed.  Because of droughts in the US, corn prices within Haiti have increased dramatically over the past several months and therefore affected the price of chicken feed.  Our goal is to find a formula composed of locally grown ingredients that could satisfy the needs of the hens, decrease production costs, and benefit the local farmers by buying locally.  This may be a larger problem to solve, but I am determined that it must be done in order to make the hen business sustainable.

Stay tuned, the best is yet to come.

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