Peanut Planting Season
Planting a successful peanut crop requires time, preparation, resources, and labor. Before planting can happen, farmers have to determine where they will obtain their seed. Many farmers purchase their seed at open air markets from peanut sellers, while others save a portion of their harvest to use as seed during the next planting season. Still others obtain seed on credit from input provisioning organizations such as Acceso and iF Foundation. After they have their seed, farmers will then shell the peanuts by hand and sort out the bad peanuts before planting. Next comes land preparation, which is often done by manual laborers using hoes, although some farmers have access to animal-driven plows and a choice few have access to tractors.
After the seed and the land have been prepared, it is time to plant. Haitian smallholder peanut farmers typically use a traditional scatter-planting method, making small divots in the ground with a machete or a hoe and then dropping one or two seeds into each hole. Some farmers have also begun planting in rows, especially those working with input provisioning and agricultural credit organizations. Whether they are planting by hand or in rows, the planting process is labor-intensive, and farmers with more resources will often hire day laborers to help speed up the planting process. Planting seasons are based on rainfall cycles and thus can vary from region to region throughout Haiti. However, as a general rule, peanut farmers usually plant two crops per year—once in the late winter or early spring and once in the late summer or early fall.
At MFK, the agricultural team is currently working on planting three trials at the Acceso nursery in Mirebalais, one of which compares row planting with traditional scatter-planting at various densities. Some research has been done on planting methods and tentative results show that row-planting allows for greater densities and higher yields per hectare than scatter planting. However, more research needs to be conducted to shed further light on this question, and the current MFK study will give us this information in a Haitian context. These pictures were taken from planting activities in Mirebalais this week.