Last week, MFK had the honor of participating in a peanut production training in Limbe, Haiti, hosted by the Georgia-based non-profit League of Hope. Dr. Bob Kemerait and Dr. Tim Brenneman from the University of Georgia, both experts in peanut pathology, offered great insights and suggestions on improving peanut yields and post-harvest storage, as well as on reducing disease and aflatoxin contamination. Drs. Kemerait and Brenneman have worked with MFK for four years through the USAID Peanut CRSP program to help peanut farmers in the region, and thus have an extensive understanding of local challenges for peanut farmers.
Part of the training involved site visits to two of MFK’s nearby peanut plots, organized by MFK’s agronomist Jamie Rhoads. Jamie provided demonstrations of aflatoxin testing, which can be conducted in the field to improve monitoring of contamination. He also showed participants the hand-tractors used in MFK’s agricultural program. Using these tractors have resulted in a 75% decrease in soil preparation costs compared to manual labor, correlating to an increase of profitability of $645 per average production area per harvest compared to $113 using traditional methods.
We are very grateful for being given the opportunity to participate in this training, and we thank Drs. Kemerait and Brenneman for sharing their knowledge.
Dr. Bob Kemerait demonstrating how to use a peanut maturity chart to determine the optimal time for harvesting peanuts.
Visiting MFK's peanut plots.
Lastly, the latest look at the factory interior, taken on June 20, 2012. Thank you to all of our contributors for your support thus far!
On June 19-20 in Limbe, Northern Haiti, MFK agricultural staff will showcase proven techniques that have improved production and the quality of peanuts at a workshop organized by the Georgia-based non-profit, League of Hope. The workshop will bring together similarly minded organizations working in the peanut sectors, such as MFK, Zanmi Agrikòl and Technoserve, to share experiences and best practices in agricultural development, and set the stage for future collaboration and investment. The group will have the opportunity to visit MFK’s nearby peanut trial plots and meet with farmer partners to learn about the model for small-scale, sustainable peanut farming, as well as aflatoxin abatement methods. We are very excited for this opportunity for MFK’s agricultural model to be scaled nationally to improve nutrition, rural livelihoods, and public health throughout Haiti!
The model used by MFK’s agricultural program has been developed over time in Haiti in collaboration with Haiti’s Ministry of Agriculture, the Christian University of Northern Haiti (UCNH), and international partners such as the University of Georgia and USAID’s Peanut CRSP. These evidence-based practices demonstrate that farmer incomes can increase dramatically while eventually lowering associated costs and improving crop quality, with empirical data showing an increase of profitability of $645 per average production area per harvest using MFK’s small-scale production model compared to that of $113 using traditional methods. This is achieved using affordable small-scale tractors, improved agronomic techniques, and minimal inputs. Read more about our agricultural program here.
On Tuesday, May 22nd, we had the honor of showing outgoing U.S. Ambassador to Haiti, Kenneth Merten, around the MFK factory construction site. Ambassador Merten was touring the country, visiting USAID recipient sites; MFK is gratefully receiving peanut processing machinery from USAID that will enable us to procure more Haitian peanuts and improve the livelihoods of more Haitian farmers. Despite intending to stay for fifteen minutes, the former ambassador ended up staying for an hour to see all the progress we have made in our construction efforts! We would like to thank Ambassador Merten for his visit and look forward to giving even more tours when the factory is complete!
Here are some photos from his visit, as well as some of the most recent photos of the factory. Thank you to everyone that has contributed to this project thus far and stay tuned for more updates on the factory!
Joe Grealy (center) with Ambassador Merten (right) and representatives from USAID and Chemonics, a global development firm.
From left to right:
Joe Grealy, MFK's Contruction Project Manager
Nicole Widdershiem, Country Representative, Office of Transition Initiatives, USAID
Cynthia Mahoney, Chemonics
Thomas Stehl, MFK's Deputy Director
Kenneth Merten, US Ambassador to Haiti
Gabriela Salazar, MFK Agricultural Development Fellow
Outer wall of the factory. Taken May 25, 2012.
The most recent photo of the factory! Taken June 1, 2012.