Francillon shows his plot of land in Kenscoff with pride, and a bit also of disappointment. “If we don’t have rain in the coming weeks, most of the harvest will be badly affected. These carrots need water to grow,” he says plucking one out of the dry soil.
Kenscoff is a rural community located in Haiti’s West department, often referred to as Port-au-Prince’s ‘orchard’. A significant amount of all the fruit and vegetables that is sold every day in the capital’s supermarkets and bustling open markets is produced in this fertile, mountainous area. Agriculture is the main source of income for this community, but due to the lack of an efficient water collection system, absence of rain often leads to poor harvests and consequent meager incomes for the farming families.
To increase the impact of their efforts, a group of farmers joined forces, forming a local farmer cooperative called SOHADERK (Haitian Solidarity for the Rural Development of Kenscoff). Thanks to a temporary visa program, some of the cooperative’s members are going to work as seasonal agricultural workers in the United States in the upcoming months. They will be employed by American farming companies to harvest apples, pears and cherries in the state of Washington. Francillon, 39, is one of them.
He has worked as a farmer all his life. When he was about ten, his father started taking him to the fields, where he would work with the other members of the cooperative harvesting different types of crops.
This will be Francillon’s first time migrating anywhere, and he hopes to make the most of the experience. “Going to the United States will be a unique experience to expand on what I’ve learnt in Haiti. Going to another country will make me grow professionally by teaching me different things. I’ve never travelled in my life. My idea is to go there, work hard, and then come back,” he explains.
When he talks about his projects for when he comes back, his voice and eyes fill with enthusiasm. “I want to use the money I earn in the United States to build a water tank to collect and stock rain water, so I will be able to have a good harvest even during the dry season. In the long term, my hope is to continue growing my business and supporting my child’s education all the way from primary school to university.”