Women’s Associations and Peanuts
From MFK Agriculture Research and Extension Program Specialist Ben Wiseman
Women are central to the peanut market of Haiti. In May 2018, MFK completed a study in partnership with the Université Laval and the International Development Research Centre (IDRC) which identified women’s key role in peanut production from planting to sale. This study confirmed that women are peanut farmers, processors, and the almost exclusive salespeople of peanuts in North-East Haiti. This year, the MFK agriculture team is continuing the partnership with the Université Laval and IDRC to collaborate with women’s organizations to address aflatoxin contamination in the Haitian peanut value chain.
Women’s associations in Haiti form a critical part of civil society, in both rural and urban settings. Each association establishes its own priorities. Some are organized to offer microfinance to their members or to manage communally owned infrastructure. Associations often involve themselves in education campaigns and advocate for women’s health, rights, and protection from domestic and civic abuse. Women’s associations are a keystone of civic engagement in Haiti, and they can be a source of empowerment for women.
Women peanut farmers in MFK’s Farmer Training Program learn about health risks of aflatoxin and how to avoid aflatoxin contamination in their peanut crops.
At a recent MFK farmer training class, two women broke into song after class, shaking their finger as they sang a rhyme about the unstoppable force of empowered women. In their song they declared that when women organize, progress ensues.
Thus, MFK is collaborating with women’s associations to bring more information about aflatoxin to the communities in North and North-East Haiti. Due to women’s central role in peanut processing, women’s associations are ideal groups to lead aflatoxin control in their communities. Women do most of the post-harvest care, processing, and selling of peanuts. Women’s associations contribute to this work by operating communal peanut mills or marketing opportunities for peanut products. Through collaborations with a few key women’s associations in North and North-East Haiti, MFK hopes to broaden the scope of aflatoxin awareness in the region while empowering peanut processors to prevent contamination in their products.
This work was carried out with the aid of a grant from the International Development Research Centre, Ottawa, Canada. The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent those of IDRC or its Board of Governors neither of Université Laval.