Economic Exhilaration

Economic survey team. Jacque, Francique, Crystal, and Bernice (left to right). Photo by Dr. McGrath.

To put everything that I will be discussing in this blog into context, I first have to talk about my own project in contribution to the Zanmi Kafe program. This summer, myself along with three others are conducting economic surveys to the Bois Jolie farmers. The purpose of the survey is to discover what purchases the farmers make with their carbon payment, if farmers are utilizing the payments to participate in entrepreneur activities, and if collaborating with Zanmi Kafe has truly benefited them.

Last week, after the farmers had received their carbon payment, we attempted to complete the surveys but failed due to the lack of a controlled environment. There was not a way to isolate each farmer that we were surveying, so there was a lot of influence from other farmers in one survey. We then decided that we would go to each house to obtain a personal survey.


Farmers gathered around the economic survey being conducted. Agronomist Francique is working with Crystal. Photo by Lucy Wimmer.

To my pleasant surprise, the farmers are very intrigued by this survey. They sometimes crowd around the farmer that is being surveyed to listen to the questions and in most cases are willing to wait in the heat for their turn. It also brings me so much joy how attentive other farmers are while someone else is getting surveyed, because they are able to address that farmer’s confusion by clarifying the question.

It amazes me that they are comfortable sharing about how they are economically doing in the presence of their peers. Back home, I was taught that one should only discuss their economic status privately within their own family, because it is such personal information. I personally would have stopped answering questions when people came around, but the farmers seemed unaffected by the others. The farmers were still able to honestly express that they would not yield as much coffee as the next farmer. However, they did not seem defeated by this fact. Of the farmers that we have surveyed, they unanimously say that the carbon payments have encouraged them to plant more. Even if they are not getting the results for coffee like they want, they are motived to continue planting in order to reach their goals. They go to agricultural training to improve their skills, learn from one another, and constantly take care of their plants. I am delighted to hear that all of the farmers can remember how much of each tree they plant. It shows how dedicated they are to their work. They place high value to their plants, because it is a source of income for them.

Being in Bois Jolie this week has been incredible. Once again, things did not go as planned to do home surveys, but we were still able to accomplish a fourth of the surveys. We pulled the farmers aside one-by-one from their training on building terraces and complete the survey with little to no distractions. Even when we have them pulled aside, the little distraction that I mention is from all of the farmers happily greeting all of us. Every time I go back I always feel the sense of welcome and excitement to start greeting all of the farmers with firm handshakes. They are the epitome of a strong community that runs as one. I am excited to proceed in our collaboration with them.

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