Local Procurement of Peanuts Supports Haiti’s Smallholder Farmers
From James Blanc, MFK Agriculture Research and Extension Program Specialist
COVID-19 has caused a lot of uncertainty, but MFK’s commitment to support Haitian farmers remains unchanged. Sourcing peanuts from Haitian farmers remains a top priority, and this year we expect to purchase more than 40 metric tons of peanuts from local farmers.
In June, Haitian farmers officially kicked-off a new peanut harvest season. In the North, most peanut farmers use 4-month peanut varieties (local runner and GA006G), but often farmers are limited to planting only two times per year due to the limited amount of rainfall and irrigation for their crops. In contrast, farmers in the Central Plateau and West regions use the local 3-month peanut variety (Valencia), but farmers are again restricted to only three plantings per year due to insufficient rainfall or irrigation.
In June, MFK was delighted to receive local peanuts for use in our productions of RUFs. This is considered an early harvest season because weather conditions have not allowed Haitian farmers to plant in February for the last few years. Farmers who were ready in February took advantage of the suitable weather conditions, and they are now currently harvesting. MFK received over 5 metric tons from two local suppliers that work closely with smallholder farmers: Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation and Premier Steppe Ferme. Acceso is a social enterprise in the Central Plateau that provides support and inputs to farmers, significantly improving peanut yields, incomes and quality. Premier Steppe Ferme is a privately owned farm located in the North of Haiti.
Sources of good quality peanuts in Haiti can be very limited. Peanut consumers in Haiti have a high risk of exposure to aflatoxin, a dangerous toxin that can lead to stunted growth, a weakened immune system or liver cancer. MFK has strict protocols in place to avoid purchasing peanuts with a high level of aflatoxin. All local peanuts are screened at the purchase point or the delivery station for aflatoxin, since contamination typically originates on the farm during the growing season or immediately after harvest. MFK training programs educate farmers about caring for their peanut plants during the growing period and also post-harvest management techniques to mitigate their risk of contamination.
As COVID-19 continues to spread around the country, many businesses and offices have been forced to shut down, resulting in more children becoming vulnerable to malnutrition. MFK’s products are needed now more than ever and it gives our team great pride to know that locally grown peanuts play such a huge part in this mission work.