Several employees have fled the country and the area where the farm was located is plagued by crime
“Haiti Broilers” — at one time responsible for 40% of local egg consumption — stopped operating more than a year ago, due to consecutive losses recorded between 2019 and 2022, according to revelations by the former company director to AyiboPost.
This failure, which contributed to the collapse of the local poultry sector, illustrates the deep-seated obstacles hindering direct investment in Haiti, in a context where domestic production is being called for to reduce the deficit in Haiti’s trade balance with the Dominican Republic, notably.
A subsidiary of the Jamaican chicken breeding company, “Jamaica Broilers,” Haiti Broilers relied on an investment of approximately $19 million dollars to establish itself in Haiti in 2011, in partnership with the Coles Group.
However, insecurity, unfair competition, smuggling on the border, currency depreciation, and unfavorable political economic conditions led to the company’s “demise” according to Carl-Eric Staco, the former director of operations of Haiti Broilers.
This failure, which contributed to the collapse of the local poultry sector, illustrates the profound obstacles hampering direct investment in Haiti…
During 2022, the company fell prey to the seizure of nearly three to four of its freight trucks. “Every two to three months, around two truckloads of products were stolen from Haiti Broilers,” explains the former director of the company.
In April 2022, gang members attempted to capture a vehicle transporting company employees, near Drouillard. That day, the bandits forced the driver to stop the vehicle. Realizing that this was a kidnapping, the driver fled. Although the employees’ lives were spared, the armored car was hit by eighteen projectiles, reports Staco.
“This event which threatened the lives of employees was one of the factors that prompted the closure of the company by Jamaican officials,” adds Carl-Eric Staco.
Until 2019, the company was profitable. However, the repeated political unrest at the end of President Michel Martelly’s mandate in 2016, the events of July 6 and 7, 2018, the different episodes of “peyi lòk” in 2019… “all negatively impacted the company,” says the manager.
Haiti Broilers relied on an investment of approximately $19 million dollars to establish itself in Haiti in 2011, in partnership with the Coles Group.
The devaluation of the gourde is eating up a part of the margins for international companies established in Haiti. According to data from Jamaica Broilers, the company recorded an operating loss valued at $83 million Jamaican dollars in 2022.
According to the company, more than a thousand people directly benefited from its operations, especially in places near Thomazeau, in the West department.
Now several employees have fled the country and the area where the farm was located is plagued by crime.
The closure of the Haitian-Dominican border during Covid-19 was a boon for Haiti Broilers which was able to sell a lot of eggs. “We sold well, but we also recorded a lot of losses because of the devaluation of the gourde,” says Director Staco. Even if production takes place in Haiti, “the purchase of inputs is done in dollars,” underscores the manager.
We sold well, but we also recorded a lot of losses because of the devaluation of the gourde.
As Dominican eggs entered the Haitian market through contraband, Haiti Broilers was selling its products at a loss, according to company officials. This disrupted the company’s operations.
“Since 2015, every year, during the holidays, Dominicans have been able to lower the price of their eggs. Which means that in Haiti, production was sold at a loss,” according to Carl-Eric Staco.
Producing one crate of eggs in Haiti costs 2,800 gourdes, while the crate that comes from the Dominican Republic sells for 2,700 gourdes. This forced Haiti Broilers to sell its crates at 2,600 gourdes, with a loss of 100 gourdes on the cost of production, according to the former director.
“We met with customs officials to ask them to protect us [against unfair competition from the Dominicans]. However, our efforts in this regard were unsuccessful,” says the former manager.
Haiti depends on imports for a very large part of its local consumption.
In 2017, the DR’s exports to Haiti reached approximately $853 million while its imports from Haiti totaled approximately $42 million, according to the March 2019 report from the Center for International and Strategic Studies from the United States State Department.
Since 2015, every year during the holidays, Dominicans have been able to lower the price of their eggs. Which means that in Haiti, production was sold at a loss.
From 2010 to 2015, egg production ranged from 1 million to more than 6 million per month in Haiti, according to data from the Ministry of Agriculture (MARNDR).
“Although there is a dependence on foreign countries for the acquisition of chickens, the sector has the potential to stimulate national production,” explains Michel Chancy, former Secretary of State for Animal Production, to AyiboPost.
The Professor at Quisqueya University maintains that to escape dependence on the Dominican Republic in the egg sector, we must first protect the market against Dominican products which enter without supervision. The State must also, according to Chancy, carry out quality controls in order to protect national production and ensure a stable security climate.
Other entrepreneurs in the sector find themselves in turmoil.
Agronomist Dominique Charles Jean runs La Petite Ferme, a company in the poultry sector over forty years old, located in Bon-Repos, in the Plain of the Cul-de-sac (la plaine du Cul-de-Sac).
La Petite Ferme mainly produces eggs as well as ready-to-lay hens, broilers and turkeys, upon request from NGOs or farms.
“This is a farm with a capacity of 100,000 hens. But for the moment, we have a limited quantity of 9,000 layers and 20,000 chicks,” explains the agronomist.
To escape dependence on the Dominican Republic in the egg industry, we must first protect the market from Dominican products entering without supervision.
On September 14, 2023, Dominican authorities closed the border, in retaliation for the construction by Haitian farmers of a canal on the Massacre River. Because of this decision, “the farm cannot obtain feed for the poultry,” reports Jean Charles.
The widespread insecurity in the country also imposes a drop in production, maintains the entrepreneur, who complains of a lack of customers for ready-to-lay hens. “The poultry are at 17% of their usual laying rate which is estimated at 80%,” according to Jean Charles.
The hemorrhaging of technicians fleeing Haiti weighs on La Petite Ferme, which is facing a loss of technicians who have emigrated to the USA, as part of the Humanitarian Parole program. Also, despite the opportunities offered by the closure of the border, the farm went from around thirty employees to around fifteen, says entrepreneur Jean Charles.
The market remains difficult. Haiti Broilers opened a poultry feed production plant, an egg incubation plant, a slaughterhouse and a canning facility.
The company also had a hatchery with a potential capacity of 390,000 chicks per month, for a usual production of only 100,000 chicks per month.
The hemorrhaging of technicians fleeing Haiti weighs on La Petite Ferme, which is facing a loss of technicians who have emigrated to the USA, as part of the Humanitarian Parole program.
“At one point, Haiti Broilers supplied 1,450 cases of eggs per day, distributed across approximately 54 different production units with nearly 650,000 layers,” says Carl-Eric Staco.
Before 2011, the quantity of laying hens could be estimated between 20,000 to 24,000, but with the arrival of Haiti Broilers, production increased by 400,000 laying hens in 2016, according to the company’s internal figures.
This led to the country becoming self-sufficient in these areas. 45 to 50% of eggs consumed in Haiti came from the local market and the company had captured 40% of the market.
English translation by Sarah Jean.
Cover image: Laying hens in cages | © freepik
Watch this AyiboPost report produced on the commercial reality between Haiti and the Dominican Republic in the border area at Anse-à-Pitres:
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