A Web of Market Days

From MFK Agriculture Research and Extension Program Specialist Ben Wiseman

Peanut trading in Nord (North) and Nord-Est (North-East) Haiti happens informally in weekly community markets.  These markets form webs of trade connecting rural producers with urban consumers.  In July, MFK’s agriculture team embarked on the next phase of a research study to characterize the peanut value chain in relation to aflatoxin control.  With support of the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) and in collaboration with a graduate student from Laval University in Quebec, MFK agriculture personnel traveled to 16 markets throughout the Nord and Nord-Est provinces of Haiti.

Country markets are meeting places for peanut farmers and peanut merchants.  Farmers go to their local country market to sell peanuts to merchants during the harvest season. Then, during the planting season, farmers often return to the same market to buy peanuts for the planting season.  The merchants make rounds through the countryside to buy and sell peanuts in neighboring markets.  Since country markets typically function only one day a week, merchants can travel to a different market each day of the week.  Larger merchants may use a truck for transporting goods, but many merchants travel by foot or with a donkey, mule, or pony.

Peanut Markets and Points of Interest in Nord and Nord-Est Haiti

Peanuts that make it out of country markets arrive in city markets by way of merchants.  Once in a city market, the possible destinations of the peanut multiply.  The peanuts in the city market are bought by consumers, other merchants, peanut butter producers, and other peanut product vendors.

Regardless of the particular route the peanut takes to the consumer, the path is riddled with storage periods which can increase risk for aflatoxin contamination.  As the complexity of the market web increases, so increases the complexity of aflatoxin control in the peanut market.

The current peanut value chain characterization study is the most recent stage in MFK’s work with the IDRC’s project titled Actions for Food with Low Levels of Aflatoxin in Haiti (AFLAH).  The primary objective of the AFLAH project is to improve aflatoxin control by working with the government and people in all stages of the peanut value chain. It is a multi-lateral project with various partners throughout Haiti collaborating on its implementation.  In the coming months, MFK will continue its work characterizing the value chain of peanuts in relation to aflatoxin control.