Exit Strategy for Poverty: Linking Farmers to Better Markets

Jefferson Shriver

Jefferson Shriver, CRS regional technical advisor in Latin America for agro-enterprise and climate change, is working toward an exit strategy for poverty.Photo by Phillip Laubner / CRS

Profits are soaring. Jobs are being created. Businesses are growing.

With your help, Catholic Relief Services is improving the agriculture industry in countries across Latin America by turning farmers into entrepreneurs rather than just producers.

CRS is connecting farmers with suppliers and vendors to agricultural cooperatives to help the poorest farmers thrive. This revolution is being driven by education and innovative agricultural methods.

By building bean processing plants, farmers are able to increase the value of their product and sell their beans for 67 percent more than before the plant was built. By installing drip irrigation systems, farmers have been able to use 50 percent less water and 34 percent less fuel. By connecting farmers with major worldwide food distributors, farmers in Nicaragua and Ecuador have been able to sell cocoa for $1.75 per pound rather than the $0.75 they were paid by local vendors.

Now, CRS is expanding its agricultural enterprise work to Haiti, a country devastated by deforestation and last year’s earthquake.

“We’re also looking to respond to some of the long-term needs of Haitians and look at economic recovery in the rural sector,” said Jefferson Shriver, CRS regional technical advisor in Latin America for agro-enterprise and climate change. “The backbone of the Haitian economy is still agriculture.”

Over the next 5 years, CRS will support about 10,000 Haitian farmers to help improve their of mango and coffee production and teach them how to market their products to domestic and international markets.

CRS supporters help provide an exit strategy from poverty for farmers in Latin America by helping them improve their products, expand their market and help them to become self-sustainable.

“The good thing about agriculture and enterprise is that it has a start and an end date. It really is a means to an end,” Shriver said. “And we’ve seen a lot of the cooperatives we support become self-sustainable over time.”

Patrick Carney is CRS’ associate web producer, writer and editor. He is based in Baltimore, Maryland.

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