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A Collaborative Is Launched To Provide Much-Needed Sweet Potato Harvests

For Nutrition And Economic Development -- In Haiti And Beyond

Recently, Global Institute For Transformation (GIFT), a cross-denominational, 501 (c) (3) ministry, participated in forging an exciting new collaborative to optimize sweet potato harvests and impacts for people in need of food and sources of income in Haiti and beyond.

In what seemed to be a trip orchestrated by God, GIFT president, Tim Maurer, traveled to Haiti to join with a number of collaborators in launching this innovative smallholder, smart farming initiative. 

The photos below are from GIFT's trip to Haiti, wherein this exciting collaborative initiative was formed to increase sweet potato harvests, increase food security, prevent starvation, improve health and enable economic development. This endeavor was supported in many ways by St. Matthew Parish and the Diocese of Norwich Outreach-To-Haiti organization located in Connecticut, USA. The video clips below the photos convey the goals of some of the participants in the collaboration who are all working to address hunger and economic development. Collectively, the collaborating parties bring tremendous competencies, capacity and commitment which should help make a significant impact in addressing very dire needs.

The collaborators in Haiti include the Wynne Farm, La Maison L'Arc-en-Ciel orphanage, University of Fondwa, the Association of the Peasants of Fondwa, Fonkoze micro lending, and the Partners In Mission; and in the U. S., they include Global Institute For Transformation (GIFT) and St. Matthew parish, Connecticut. Our thanks also go out to the Poznan Supercomputing & Networking Center, Poland, for developing the "smart agriculture" technology used to create and advance this program.

(To learn more about this collaborative initiative, contact Tim Maurer, President, Global Institute For Transformation, at 402-212-7973, or via email: [email protected] To make a tax deductible investment in this worthy cause and help increase the impact from this far-reaching collaborative, please go to GIFT's investment page and click on the Global Sweet Potato Farming button.)

See An Exciting And Powerful Collaboration Come To Life In Haiti:

See What Some Of The Collaborators Are Hoping To Achieve From This Initiative

Perspectives Regarding This Powerful, Smart, Sweet Potato Farming Collaborative

Consistent with the encouragement in the USCCB Document on the Laity that states, "all of the baptized are called to work toward the transformation of the world," these dedicated collaborators will be working in Haiti and Malawi to help advance sweet potato farming to improve nutrition, to avert night blindness, to curb diarrhea, to help avert deaths and to vastly improve incomes through various economic development strategies.

This powerful collaborative initiative is in keeping with global impact strategies recommended by CRS, Maryknoll, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Skoll and USAID -- as all of these experts have advocated the development of smallholder farms. It is also consistent with the U. N. Sustainable Development Goals which include eradicating all poverty and hunger and improving health and wellness by 2030.

The collaborative will:

  • Educate communities on the efficacy and wonder of the sweet potato, hailed as "the number one healthiest vegetable," "one of the five most innovative ways to feed the planet," and "The Mother Teresa of Foods." (It's also a variety of the Morning Glory flower!)
  • Best varieties and sustainable farming strategies to optimize sweet potato harvests and yields, including proving and documenting the efficacy of such strategies as harvesting slips from early growth for replication, using nets to protect plants, utilizing soil and water conservation techniques, etc.
  • Enable peasant farmers to learn more about sweet potatoes and to grow high-quality crops, including supporting them with a "kit" of funding, quality slips, tools, training, and crop repurchases
  • Nurture, equip and enable women farmers in villages across Haiti
  • introduce the use of sweet potato leaves in diets as a second source of nutrition which is not often consumed in Haiti
  • Research the best products to produce from the sweet potatoes for maximum economic development -- products developed from both the potatoes and leaves
  • Create marketable, value-added products from the potatoes and leaves for maximum income and program sustainability
  • Address the void in childhood nutrition created by the withdrawal of government support by developing new products specifically for children
  • Market and distribute the value-added products in Haiti and globally
  • Educate people on smart agriculture technology solutions, such as "Internet of Things" soil sensors, web cams and real-time weather data to help the community stay abreast of the world's leading-edge technology and to help affect solidarity between the developed and developing worlds
  • Share learnings with other nations -- such as Malawi and beyond -- to improve food security and living conditions everywhere
  • Serve as a template for replication by other Parishes and communities, including helping others fulfill the Pope's desire to be "The Church for the Poor" and making a contribution to the U. N. Sustainable Development Goals.

Sweet Potato Collaborative Fulfills Call For New Farming Strategies And Represents A "Church For The Poor"

This global collaborative was supported by St. Matthew Parish, Tolland, CT, as an answer to God's desire that we care for those less fortunate. It represents a tangible manifestation of "The Church For The Poor." St. Matthew Parish provided a training ground and parishioner expertise and joined with GIFT in developing smart sweet potato farming techniques, as part of the Parish's commitment to Haiti twinning within its Outreach To Haiti (OTH) program. 

Outreach To Haiti is a Norwich Diocese organization that has worked with area "twinning" Parishes to provide the people of Haiti with responsive solutions for over 30 years. OTH provides an infrastructure that connects parishioners with their brothers and sisters around the world -- helping parishioners fulfil our need to be a "Church For The Poor." Outreach To Haiti managed all the logistics of this trip, including providing advice and countless in-country resources such as lodging, travel support and loving relationships.

Importantly, the collaborative helps fulfill the admonitions in the Papal Encyclical, Caritas in Veritate: ”What is (still) missing is a network of economic institutions capable of guaranteeing regular access to sufficient food and water for nutritional needs. The problem of food insecurity needs to be addressed… promoting the agricultural development of poorer countries… It could be useful to consider the new possibilities that are opening up through proper use of traditional as well as innovative farming techniques... The significant new elements in the picture of the development of peoples today in many cases demand new solutions.

The support that both St. Matthew Parish and Outreach to Haiti provided this collaborative initiative serves as a testimony to the commitment of the Catholic Church to "go into all the world" and share Christ's love. The support also attests to the incredible value of the OTH in-country resources -- resources that were established over many years of loving service and donor contributions -- which made such a fruitful trip possible and frankly, very easy. (As OTC vice chairman, John Bouley, likes to say and has even taught the Haitian children to say, "That was easy.")

Perhaps the ease of participating in this whirlwind, four-day trip can serve as an encouragement to other Christians seeking to answer our call to serve the less fortunate. And perhaps more of us will engage with and support Outreach To Haiti, as it is an extremely impactful organization. More information about Outreach To Haiti is available at:

Importantly, this collaboration begun by St. Matthew Parish and Global Institute For Transformation (GIFT) is also representative of GIFT's commitment to fulfill and model the USCCB admonition that “All of the faithful are called in various ways to share in the Church’s mission of announcing the reign of God and transforming the world in the light of Christ.” (pgs. 8; 20). And while GIFT is committed to sharing in the Church's mission and supporting the Church and her people, Saint Matthew Parish and Outreach to Haiti deserve all the credit and our profound gratitude for enabling the sharing and fulfillment of that mission through this trip. This expeditious and fruitful mission trip would not have been possible without their tremendous support