Friday, August 21, 2015

CASB Master Plan

In my new position, I'm working as a project manager for the stabilization and revitalization of the St. Barnabas Agriculture Center (CASB), which primarily features an agricultural technical school with a 2-year academic program. It is one of the higher education institutions in the Episcopal Diocese of Haiti, but has recently suffered from various difficulties, prompting a push to reinvest in the center.

My work is just a part of what will take many more years to realize. I want to share a bit here from the CASB Capital Development Plan put together by Haitian Architect Herve Sabin and the Studio Drum Collaborative to provide more context and motivation behind this project.

On CASB History

"Founded in 1984, Saint Barnabas Agriculture Centre of Terrier-Rouge is a joint development of Haiti Episcopal Church and the Presbyterian Church USA. Our goal is to teach daughters and sons of peasants how from a small are of land, they can earn a living honorably. Our teaching focuses on practice, particularly the cultivation of vegetables, the environment, and animal production as well as the management of risks and disasters. From the opening to today, 30 classes have been graduated in this school..." -page 4

An excerpt from Haitian History

"When Henry Christophe, Haiti's second ruler after the death of Dessalines established his monarchy in the North, he implemented crop production schemes similar to the colonial system. During this period the country was divided between the north (under King Henry Chrisophe) and the south under Alexandre Petion as a republic. As a direct result of Christophe's agricultural programs, north Haiti was economically more prosperous than south Haiti. At the time of Christophe's death in 1820, it is said that he had accumulated in the citadel 17,437,823 gourdes in silver and gold which was equivalent to six times the gross domestic product of the republic of Petion in the south and two thirds of the debt that Charles X demanded Haiti to pay to France in 1825 (out of a total sum of 150 Million francs). 
Henry Christophe
To this day, northern and southern Haiti have distinct cultural characteristics owing back to the fact that King Henry kept the land reforms to a minimum, keeping larger parcels intact for production. Whereas Petion, in the south, enacted land reforms that subdivided large parcels of land into small parcel ownerships...

Early Haitian leaders, Toussaint, Dessalines and Christophe, produced agricultural codes that prevented small plantations or small land ownerships. Small land ownership was discouraged because it was believed that it would not allow to pay debt of independence and create an economically prosperous Haiti. However, the psychological implications of slavery worked against this plan as slaves were averse to work collectively on large plantation in methods similar to the status quo before independence." -pages 11-12

Planned CASB Capabilities and Capacities

  • Regional Center of Excellence for Academic and Agriculture Applications
  • Educator and Trainer of Fully Capable Agriculture and Veterinary Technicians
  • Agriculture Services Support Center for smallholders, farmers and agriculture operators
  • Center for exploration and implementation of high productivity for plant and animal husbandry
  • "Mother" of agriculture entrepreneurs through education, training, and facilitation
  • Place of pride and accomplishment for graduates, faculty, staff, and students in applied agriculture operations

On the community response to CASB changes

Studio Drum surveyed local residents in a needs assessment associated with the creation of this plan. Following is the response to "How and why to you think these changes will improve the community?"

"Three responses were provided: there would be a reduction in typhoid and malaria; there will be an increase in the households' income that will be of benefit to the whole community, and will prevent the people living in the community from being humiliated in the Dominican Republic. Haiti has had a tumultuous relationship with its neighbor, the Dominican Republic. Despite this, many Haitians in the Northeast find economic opportunities in the Dominican Republic via the open border market held twice per week or by performing manual labor." -page 14

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