An Interview with Haitian Agronomist Onel Dossou

One look at the breathtaking scenery of Haiti can inspire us all to preserve it for future generations. This goal is a core part of the mission for the Tree Angels for Haiti. Our efforts include a variety of projects, managed by a team of dedicated volunteers. One of these amazing Tree Angels is agronomist Onel Dossou. (An agronomist is someone who studies the growing and harvesting of crops) Onel was kind enough to share his professional knowledge about the Haitian landscape in a recent conversation:

Q.: Which trees are the most common in Haiti?

 A.: The trees most common in Haiti are mostly fruit trees including mango, avocado and coconut trees. In addition there are forest trees such as zed, palm trees and flamboyant trees (which is considered to be one of the most beautiful trees in the world!)

Q.: What are the most efficient trees for Haiti to plant in efforts to reforest the nation?

A.: For the short term, Flamboyant trees, palms trees and Moringa trees would be the best option.

 Q.: Are there any suggestions the average person/ family can use to help with local reforestation efforts?

A.: After a long time of working with different communities in Haiti, my suggestion centers around training people about the trees and planting. From there we can work with the local residents to plant them. We can then tell them that the trees belong to them and that they may keep the fruit when they bloom.

 Q.: The Haitian climate remains ideal for certain vegetation. Which crops tend to thrive in Haiti?

 A.: There are two climates in Haiti. In one area, we can grow vegetables. In another area we can grow mangoes. In addition some crops are ideal for the flat land—corn, beans, sweet potatoes and rice. In addition, in the mountains there’re growing all kinds of vegetables like broccoli, cabbage, celery and lettuce.

Q.: Mangoes seem to flourish all around Haiti. What are the conditions that make Haiti ideal location for growing the fruit? 

A.: Mangoes flourish all around Haiti but there are a lot of different species of mangoes. In the north there’s some species we don’t have it in south. The conditions that make Haiti ideal location for growing the fruit are our fertile land and our tropical climate.

Q.: What factors are the primary causes of deforestation in Haiti? How can they be reversed or at least minimized?  

A.: Most Haitians still depend on wood and charcoal as their main source of energy. The people are cutting trees and but no one is re-planting them. Alternative energies would be needed to save the forests. To reverse or minimize the effects of deforestation, Haiti will need to create a system to use as another main source of energy. Another plan would be a program requiring the community to plant 10 trees for each tree that is cut down.