Timberland’s work to reintroduce cotton farming to Haiti was honored recently with the US Chamber of Commerce Citizenship Award for the Best Economic Empowerment Program. In partnership with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA), the global outdoor global lifestyle brand aims to create a new supply chain for sustainable cotton for use in its products through a program that will also contribute to reforesting Haiti and improving the livelihoods of smallholder farmers. Over the next five years, the program will plant 25 million trees and engage 34,000 Haitian smallholder farmers to produce 10 to 15 million pounds of organic cotton lint annually.
“I applaud Timberland’s collaboration with the Smallholder Farmers Alliance in support of the Haitian agricultural sector,” said Paul Altidor, the Haitian Ambassador to the US. “We hope more US-based global corporations will follow Timberland’s lead and commit to working with Haiti to help realize our agricultural potential.”
Atlanta McIlwraith accepting the US Chamber of Commerce Citizenship Award on behalf of Timberland, accompanied by Hugh Locke from the Smallholder Farmers Alliance.
“We’re truly honored to win this award, especially given the caliber and impact of our fellow finalists,” said Jim Pisani, global brand president for Timberland. “This program not only supports our business goals but it also ensures our values come to life and benefit the environment and community of our future suppliers.”
Linking cotton farming with tree planting is an entirely new concept that was developed through the SFA/Timberland partnership and with the support of the Haitian Ministries of Agriculture, Commerce and Environment. It centers on a new financing model called “tree currency.” Smallholder farmers grow, transplant and look after trees in order to earn credits which they are able to exchange for crop seeds (now including cotton), tools, agricultural training and livestock. Tree planting qualifies farmers to become members of community seed banks that ensure an ongoing source of high-quality seed, and women farmers qualify for micro-loans and specialized business training.