MFK Meets Bill Clinton in Haiti
“MFK depot part of the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership (CGEP) network of 35 planned peanut depots”
Meds & Food for Kids, an organization dedicated to ending malnutrition and igniting economic development in Haiti was joined by a network of partners who participated in a visit by former U.S. President Bill Clinton to Tierra Muscady, Haiti on Sunday June 29th.
Meds & Food for Kids is a partner with Acceso and with the Peanut Mycotoxin Innovation Lab (PMIL) of the University of Georgia (UGA) in this project.
Founded in 2003, by Dr. Patricia Wolff, Professor of Clinical Pediatrics at Washington University’s School of Medicine, Meds & Food for Kids accomplishes its mission by developing, producing and distributing highly nutritious foods, including the gold-standard Ready-to-Use-Therapeutic-Food (RUTF) – also known as “Medika Mamba.” MFK makes its food products in Haiti, using Haitian workers and Haitian raw materials.
“Peanuts are an important source of protein in Haiti. They do, however, need improvement in fungal contamination and the resulting aflatoxin levels in those peanuts and in the efficiency of agricultural practices,” noted Dr. Patricia Wolff. Peanut farmers in Haiti generally have small plots and little access to inputs such as better seeds, fertilizer, and rental of agricultural machines. MFK has been working with peanut farmers for 10 years now. For the last 5 years, the University of Georgia faculty has been a source of great mentoring and professional advice to MFK and to Haitian farmers through the present and previous USAID funded version of PMIL. Now MFK and UGA are also partnering with Clinton Giustra Foundation’s newly launched Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corp to improve the livelihoods of more than 12,000 smallholder peanut farmers.
The goal of the project, Clinton said, is to “empower farmers to meet the nutritional needs of people.”
The rural Acceso depot in Tierra Muscady is one of 35 planned throughout Haiti’s central plateau and northern regions. It functions as a site for training, point of sales for seed and other inputs, storage and distribution for the community’s peanut farmers.
In the north of Haiti, MFK built a peanut depot with funding from USAID in 2013 in a rural area. This depot is now the center of commercial supply chain support activities of Acceso. In this location, MFK continues to educate farmers on the need for better varieties of peanuts, use of fertilizer and fungicide and Acceso is supporting the launch of a commercial “middle man” enterprise which will provide these inputs plus microcredit to the farmers. This Haitian business will also take over the aflatoxin testing which MFK has been doing in this area. The vision for this joint project in the Northeast of Haiti is that MFK will continue to be an educator of farmers and a buyer of peanuts to use in producing our life saving Medika Mamba. MFK will no longer be the supplier of inputs which is better done by a Haitian business venture, such as this Acceso project supports.
MFK continues to test varieties of peanuts and do other research in collaboration with UGA. “We are working to improve the production, quality and marketability of peanuts as a crop,” said Dave Hoisington, PMIL director and also a senior research scientist in the UGA crop and soil sciences department. “We do this by developing high-yielding varieties of mold resistant peanuts and then training smallholder farmers on best practices for producing and marketing healthy crops.”
Among those participating in the launch were Bryan Sobel and Dorvil Weldenson, agronomists with Meds & Food for Kids. Dorvil and Bryan are responsible for the past and current farmer training programs available from MFK in the north. PMIL and MFK are continuing to test peanut varieties for performance in Haiti, working together to solve existing production problems and continuing to provide further training so that farmers can supply the needed peanuts to the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership.
Since 2003, Meds & Food for Kids has trained over 1,300 farmers and agronomists on more effective techniques for successfully growing and harvesting peanuts in the North of Haiti. The additional depots planned by Acceso will help MFK continue to our efforts to educate farmers, purchase Haitian raw materials and produce and distribute life-saving Medika Mamba.
DOWNLOAD RELEASE: Clinton Press Release MFK 7.8.14