Another component of ISCA’s community livelihoods plan includes the establishment and capacity building of a local fruit processing group, who would make products such as fruit jam for sale both in Haiti and abroad. Haiti is one of the world’s top 20 mango producers, but the surplus supply often goes to waste and is thrown out. So what better place to make use of the extra produce to make value-added products that can be preserved and sold in Haiti and overseas?
For this, ISCA worked with Chalice to find a group of women in Terrier Rouge who were interested in participating and recruited Carol Ann, a Canadian food scientist with expertise in food processing, to carry out training sessions on jam making with the group.
It turns out that jam making in a country like Haiti has its own set of challenges – not only did we have challenges finding local sources of materials like bottles, but the participants had no prior experience with using kitchen equipment that we Canadians tend to take for granted like a stovetop, thermometers, and scales, or the mathematic calculations and formulas needed to measure out ingredients.
But throughout the sessions held over the course of six days, I saw a transformative change in the women participants. What started off as casual interest in the concepts Carol Ann was teaching – basic sanitation and hygiene, food safety, pH levels, sugar content and more – evolved into genuine excitement and engagement in the jam-making process as the days went on. By the end of the training, I saw an impressive, confident group of women with great knowledge of how to use various tools and calculate the right quantity of ingredients, and an active interest in continuing to apply the skills they gained to experiment with making jam from other local fruits.
Over the next few months, ISCA will continue to work with Chalice and the group to create a sustainable business model for the fruit processing activities. I can’t help but feel hopeful that the training provided by the always enthusiastic Carol Ann has built the foundation for a new and successful business venture for the group. At the very least I can personally attest to the excellent taste and quality of the mango jam that the women made, having devoured numerous bottles of them!
Post written by Isabelle Kim, who is an intern living for the past six months in Terrier Rouge