Patrick Firmenich, CEO of the leading fragrance and flavor supplier Firmenich, visited the Les Cayes region of South Haiti last month in support of an initiative launched three years ago benefitting local farming communities there.
Haitian vetiver—of which Firmenich is a most significant purchaser—is a crucial resource for the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, which has been plagued over the years by political turmoil and natural disaster.
In 2010, Firmenich made a commitment under the Clinton Global Initiative to work with vetiver farmers to ensure sustainable production, and in 2012, the company formed an official partnership with the Swiss Decelopment and Cooperation Agency (SDC) to further support local farmers.
Patrick Firmenich meets students in the primary school that the company constructed in Débouchette.
Firmenich’s primary goals in Haiti include: improving agricultural methods and training; recreating dynamic ecosystems; providing better access to education, water, hygiene and nutrition; and job creation for women and men alike.
The company selected the rural agricultural village of Débouchette in the Les Cayes region to pilot its sustainability work, and the top need identified by locals was access to education for their children. In response, Firmenich constructed a nine-classroom primary school serving approximately 500 students.
“The vetiver farmers I met in Haiti welcome the opportunity to complement their artisanal skills with modern technology,” Mr. Firmenich said. “The children from the school in Débouchette shared with me their dreams for a brighter future. As my stay in Haiti came to a close, I left the island with a true sense of hope. Each time I smell the beautiful scent of vetiver, I will know that Firmenich played some small role in touching the lives of the people of Haiti.”
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