Monday, August 17, 2015

STU Students Conduct Research with Haiti Farmers

What do STU Bobcats have in common with the beetles? Our Center for Community Engagement (CCE) students are back from Haiti, capping their latest research in NW Haiti for effective organic treatment methods on the Coffee Bean Borer Beetle (Hypothenemus hampei) – a global problem in coffee production. The beetle responds to treatments differently in various climates, and while extensive research has been completed in other major coffee markets, little to none has been done in Haiti. St. Thomas University’s work is part of a 30-year partnership between the Archdiocese of Miami and its sister-diocese of Port-de-Paix. Integrating teaching and research resources into three, long-term, economic development projects in Northwest Haiti, the Center has engaged students in collaborative projects that assist farmers, artists, and groups from various walks of life.

One of these is the CafĂ© COCANO Fair-Trade Coffee Project. In collaboration with the Cafeiere et Cacouyere du Nord’Ouest Coffee Cooperative (COCANO) and Panther Coffee (a leading specialty coffee roaster), CCE’s Director Anthony Vinciguerra and the STU student team spent time in Haiti’s Northwest province helping coffee farmers in their research involving coffee bean beetles.

The results of the study by the STU/Haiti Coffee Bean Borer Beetle Research team will be presented at the 2015 Engaged Scholarship Consortium Conference to be held September 27-30th at Penn State University. Known as the nation’s premier venue for academic community-based research collaborations, the Engaged Scholarship Consortium conference includes hundreds of participants from the nation’s leading land-grant and research institutions.

This groundbreaking student research collaboration is part of the end result, making a difference in the plantations by importing, marketing, and selling high-grade specialty coffee from Port-de-Paix to the United States. Coffee is sold directly by the farmer-cooperative itself and marketed by STU students, thus eliminating the numerous middle-men in the coffee import business and ensuring that profit remains in the hands of those who need it most.

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