Jean-Baptiste has long understood that Haiti’s future and its people’s economic well-being depend on protecting the country’s rugged and sacred mountains and preserving its fertile topsoil. For more than 30 years, Jean-Baptiste toiled alongside his fellow peasants to reach those goals. Building on Haiti’s traditional community working groups, or gwoupman, the MPP has engaged more than 60,000 community members in sustainable agriculture, including 20,000 women and 10,000 youth. Jean-Baptiste and his colleagues train farmers to use water-saving drip irrigation systems, natural fertilizers and pesticides in place of toxic commercial products, and to build low-cost erosion-prevention structures. The resulting increase in long-term crop yields significantly decreased dependence on imported foods, reduced malnutrition rates in children, protected vital water supplies and helped decrease overall poverty levels in central Haiti.
To Jean-Baptiste and the MPP, every tree counts. Together MPP members have planted more than 20 million fruit and forest trees to help stabilize Haiti’s fragile soil and provide access to more food sources. Over the years, many have argued that planting these trees is pointless given that so many will be cut down for fuel. Jean-Baptiste remains undeterred; his dream is to foster a green Haiti for the next generation. His strategy includes increasing access to alternative fuel sources. This has led to the launch of a solar power initiative that includes workshops on building solar-powered battery chargers and establishing a small manufacturing facility for solar products.