Update From the Peanut Fields
MFK’s agriculture team has been hard at work to increase Haitian peanut use in the MFK factory for Medika Mamba production. Peanuts are well suited to grow in the natural environment of Haiti, given they are tolerant to droughts, and therefore have the potential to be a reliable source of income for Haitians. However, farmers still practice methods that make their peanuts more expensive to purchase and less valuable because of the unsafe levels of aflatoxin. MFK has made great strides to reduce these problems and make Haitian peanuts a reliable source for the factory.
Since 2006 MFK’s agriculture team has trained over 1000 farmers, agronomists and peanut processors on all aspects of farming including soil preparation methods, seed and row spacing, fungicide and herbicide application and harvesting and improving seeds. One hundred fifty farmers have been trained to control an insect pest this past year that had taken many crops two seasons ago. MFK has also assisted fifty farmers to receive pilot microloans from an NGO, with the first round of farmers successfully paying back their loans this June. MFK has established 60 demonstrations plots this past year with improved methods spread across six communities to assist in education.
So far, improved seeds have yielded 2-3x that of the local varieties and fungicide applications have shown over 100% increase in yields on local varieties. The tractors introduced by MFK have shown to decrease soil preparation costs by 75%.
MFK’s success will not end here. In the future farming activities will expand in the north and northeast areas of Haiti and continue to establish small managed depots and buying points throughout the production areas. MFK will also continue to decrease production costs by assisting with seed banks and offering services to improve soil preparation and fungicide application, as well as continue to conduct research to foster innovation with the existing grower networks, for instance ways to create revenue from the waste products of peanuts such as peanut oil.
by: Elaine Jaworski