Farmer Training Kicks off for 2020

From MFK Agriculture Research and Extension Program Specialist, James Blanc

In October 2019, 53 farmers from Savane Longue and Carrefour Sifreus completed the six-month MFK Farmer Training Program and received their certificates.

This past week, MFK welcomed 60 new farmers to the current session, taking place in two small communities in the Ouanaminthe area: Bahara (Baja)and Savane Longue. Located approximately 90 minutes southeast of the MFK factory, Savane Longue is home to 10,000 people and farmers primarily grow peanuts. While MFK has conducted trainings in Savane Longue for a few years, this is the first time MFK has conducted  training sessions in Baja, a small community located on the border of the Dominican Republic. Farmers from Baja primarily grow corn, cassava roots, beans, and sweet potatoes. However, over the last 10 years many farmers from this community have abandoned farming, claiming that they make enough money from non-farming activities to support their household. They prefer traveling to the Dominican Republic to do business. As the focus has shifted away from farming, agricultural production has decreased considerably. With MFK’s training, we hope that they will regain confidence in the potential to make money from their farms and get back to farming.

The farmers will be educated on good agricultural practices that will allow them to produce better quality peanuts and increase their production. The program began on January 15thand will last until mid-June.

First farmer training session for 2020 began in the Ouanaminthe area on Jan. 15.

Through this program, MFK’s goal is to increase the production and quality of peanuts in the region by promoting improved agricultural practices. Every Wednesday and Thursday, the MFK Agriculture team will travel to these two communities to conduct training that consists of a mixture of presentations, group discussions and technical in-field activities.

During group discussions, a wide variety of topics are covered, including soil preparation, soil conservation and erosion prevention, leaf disease and insect control, crop rotation and mixed gardens, aflatoxin control pre and post-harvest, financial literacy and climate change. Our in-field activities include simple experiments comparing yield and plant growth of the three local varieties, in-row planting versus scattered planting, and fungicide application. Our goal is to see the farmers not only increase production but also produce good quality peanuts, free from aflatoxin.

On January 15, we welcomed all the new participants. This season’s participants are excited and motivated to learn new things and ways to improve their production. Each participant completed a brief survey about their current agricultural practices and basic information about themselves. We will use this information to not only help these farmers, but also help the agriculture team determine understanding and areas of interest. Look for more information about this growing season soon!