The research presented in this report directly addresses important and unresolved questions stemming from the unexpected fact that Haitians continue to meet approximately 80 percent of their national energy needs through firewood and charcoal production.
Haiti burns over 400,000 tons of charcoal annually (USAID 2011); that amount translates to over 4,000,000 tons of trees destroyed since it takes 10 tons of wood to produce one ton of Haitian charcoal (ESMAP 2007). Regional environmental studies in Haiti, including Ghilardi, et al 2018, have determined that the Haitian charcoal industry has a destructive effect on the trees of Haiti.
Conventional charcoal and firewood are the main source of energy in Haiti. They provide up to 90% of the country’s energy for domestic and industrial use, resulting in severe environmental and health issues. The present study is initiated to better understand the reasons why two promising alternative technologies (improved cookstoves and alternative charcoal briquettes) have experienced low adoption in Haiti.
The aim of this study was to perform a rigorous field evaluation of alternative cooking fuel during actual use. Chabon Vet (green charcoal) fuel briquettes are produced by Carbon Roots International (CRI) in Cap Haïtien, Haiti and are made from carbonized agricultural waste, predominantly sugarcane bagasse. During this study Chabon Vet was compared to other commonly used wood-derived fuels (wood charcoal and firewood).
Soil erosion and deforestation are endemic in Haiti due to centuries of agricultural exploitation, first under the colonial plantation system—intensive monocropping of export commodities such as cotton, indigo, tobacco, sugarcane, and coffee—and later by the widespread harvest of timber for export markets and the expansion of peasant subsistence agriculture on marginal sloping land. A growing urban population and an increasing demand for charcoal and fuel wood have further stressed the environment.
Neem (Azadirachta indica Adr. Juss.) is planted in Haiti for its hardiness and multiple purposes of shade, medicinal uses, wood, aesthetics and pest control. A neem trial at Roche Blanche was established in October, 1991 as a collaborative effort of SECID/Auburn University, Agridyne (now Biosys) and Double Harvest.
There are many reasons for planting AOP trees beyond the original intent of cash-cropping, including improving fallow, providing shade, producing forage, and reducing soil erosion. All of these benefits of planting trees increase .the wealth of the farmer or prevent it from falling, even if they do not increase the farmer's cash flow.
The USAID Agroforestry Outreach Project (AOP) began In late 1981. One of its goals was to provide the Haitian farmer with an additional cash crop by encouraging him to grow troes in an agroforestry system. This would simultaneously reduce Haiti's soil losses and other environmental problems. One of the original concepts of AOP was to have a research component to support project needs.