Posted July 22, 2007 by Anthony in Makers

Pepperfire Heats up Haitian Economy Importing Goat Peppers

Pepperfire Heats up Haitian Economy Importing Goat Peppers
Brooks Pepperfire Foods Inc. of Rigaud, Quebec joins forces with Haitian Farm Operation, Greenland Corporation to bring economic reforms to Haiti through fair trade chili pepper initiative.

Rigaud, QC, July 20, 2007: Today, Brooks Pepperfire Foods of Rigaud Quebec announced the launch of a fresh pepper sauce made entirely from Haitian Goat Peppers. Part of the company’s Pepperfire Initiative to create a market for Fair Trade chili peppers, Goat Pepper Mash is the first in a line of pepper products that will bring economic reform to chili pepper farmers the world over. The Pepperfire Initiative is designed to help impoverished farmers improve their economic status by bringing fair trade chili peppers to market. Greenland Corporation has applied for Fair Trade Status with the world pricing organization for Fair Trade certification. Once priced, the chili peppers become eligible for Fair Trade status.
For more information, contact Tina Brooks or read news article attached.


Pepperfire Foods Pepperfire Iniative.
An article by Tina Brooks, July 20, 2007

One of the poorest countries in the world and the poorest in the Western Hemisphere, Haiti is just a stone’s throw from our back door. Bordering on the lush green and wealthy by comparison, Dominican Republic, the economic difference between the two countries is staggering. Haiti suffers from horrific poverty and 77% of Haitians live on less than $2 per day.

Greg Brooks, Peppermaster and President for Brooks Pepperfire Foods of Rigaud, Quebec says of the situation, “I remember the constant flow of Haitians escaping in small and medium sized boats and landing on the shores of Nassau in the hopes of earning income to send back to their impoverished communities — And it hasn’t stopped.” Brooks Pepperfire foods is one of the many Canadian companies working to help improve the economic situation of Haitians by participating in growing the Haitian economy through trade.

Haiti has been known to the world as a hotbed of political unrest for the over 200 years it has been independent. Through the Political struggles the country has suffered at the hands of politicos who have as yet been unsuccessful in raising the nation from a state of civil war and unrest.

The current status of the country is that although a democratically elected Government headed by Prime Minister Rene Preval is in place, there is much dissent from supporters of ex-Prime Minister Jean-Bertrand Aristide, who tendered his resignation and fled the country in 2004. Aristide claims from his exile in Africa that he was kidnapped and forced to leave the country by the CIA, a charge the CIA vehemently denies.

As a result, supporters of Aristide and supporters of Rene Preval clash daily in the capital city of Port-au-Prince. Most recently, a rally was held last Sunday by supporters of Aristide claiming that Preval had turned his back on him and thus Preval is a traitor to their country.

Today, political controversy aside, the nation is rife with unemployment, illegally armed rebels rule the streets and the infrastructure of the country is in tatters. Poverty is so prevalent that many will risk their lives trying to escape, and families, believing it will improve the lot of not only themselves, but their children, will sell them into indentured slavery, a system known as restaveques. The families are promised that their children will be well cared for, educated and will be better off, but this is not the case. These children are treated badly and even tortured, many left to sleep on the floor without covers. Over half a million children under the age of 14 are believed to be living as restaveques and over 80% of them are girls.

The military was fired by Preval’s cabinet for fear that they would launch a coup and depose him. The police force although trained by the Canadian RCMP is in disarray and is riddled with corruption because they do not get paid with any regularity, and an unnamed member of the RCMP confided that even if they were to receive their paycheques, there is no guarantee that the corruption would cease.

Kidnappings for ransom are a regular occurrence and many who must travel do so under armed guard. The infrastructure is in such poor condition that it is near impossible to put a phone call through to an existing phone number at the best of times.

The education system is practically nonexistent and the illiteracy rate in Haiti is well over 50%. Amidst cries by the populaton to put education on the top of the agenda as important to the advancement of Haiti as a nation state, the Government refuses to comply. Odlly, Government funds are not allotted in any significant numbers for the purposes of education.

Living in Haiti is not easy.

As importers of fresh chili peppers, Brooks Pepperfire Foods of Rigaud Quebec is in the unique position of being able to really make a difference to a small part of Haiti’s downtrodden economy. Last fall, they were contacted by Roland Hyppolite, owner of Greenland Corporation, a small farm in Haiti, near the border of the Dominican Republic. Roland would like to make a difference in his life and cannot wait for the Government to make it happen, so he’s doing what he can trying to find purchasers in North America for his goat peppers. By purchasing Greenland Corporation’s chili peppers and working with them to get their goat pepper crops certified for Fair Trade, Brooks Pepperfire Foods can help Roland build a legacy for the people who work on his farm and hopefully give Haiti one of the many hands it needs to move itself into the future, without it being a handout.

It’s hard to understand what exactly Fair Trade does for farmers, until you watch a film such as Black Gold the story of Tadesse Meskela and the Oromia Coffee Farmers Cooperative Union working with Oxfam or read the results of the study on the impact of fair trade on coffee farmers in Costa Rica by the University of Sussex, published in 2002. The study found that in the previous 10 years, (the approximate time of Fair Trade inception), just over half of the producers could identify improvements to their home, one third had repaid long-standing debts and one third had prolonged the time their children spent in education. One third of respondents who had to transport their harvest to market on foot, five years later were driving cars or trucks.

One respondent in the study described the difference that Fair Trade pricing of the coffee made to them this way: “Para nosotros, fue una revolución: antes, la casa no era a nosotros, ahora sí.” which translated to English reads: For us, it was like a revolution. Before, this house was not ours, now it is.

Brooks Pepperfire Foods and Greenland Corporation agreed to a fair price for the Haitian goat peppers pending the pricing from the Fair Trade Certification pricing board. Pricing of which would allow the chili peppers to be certified fair trade. The peppers are flown into Canada using the only means available, which is Air Canada Cargo, when Roland can make it safely to the airport. Once the Fair Trade pricing is in place, they will know how much of this cost price will become a Fair Trade premium that can be used to help dig wells, improve housing or even pay for education.

Currently, Flo-Cert is repricing Fair Trade coffee, which is a huge task and completion of that task is necessary before Flo-Cert can price Roland’s peppers. Both companies and TransFair Canada are hoping that they will be priced soon. Once certified, they will be available as such and the sauces that contain them, beginning with the Pepperfire Goat Pepper Mash, will apply for fair trade certification with TransFair Canada.

Brooks Pepperfire Foods currently markets three products certified fair trade through a sub-licensing agreement with Oxfam Equitas of Montreal.