PMIL partner, MFK, helps Haitian farmers replant after Hurricane Matthew
By Allison Floyd
University of Georgia, Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab
No time is a good time to have three feet of rain fall on your crop. When Hurricane Matthew slammed into Haiti in October, the Category 4 storm wiped out nearly all crops and half of livestock in the southern Grand-Anse region.
To help those farmers replant this season, Meds & Food for Kids (MFK) recently donated 3.6 tons of peanut seed to be distributed by the Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA), a Haitian nonprofit foundation working with farmers in the wake of the devastating storm. The seed will help more than 200 farmers get a crop started this spring after losing everything last fall.
MFK, which manufactures peanut-based therapeutic food, has its factory in the northern part of the country, a region that was spared the worst damage. The organization tries to source its peanut supply from local farms as much as possible, which has led MFK to work with farmers to increase yield and reduce losses from pests, disease or contamination.
Working with the Peanut & Mycotoxin Innovation Lab, MFK conducts research and extension work to improve crop yields and reduce aflatoxin for peanut farmers in the north, northeast and central plateau.
“MFK's ability to buy locally grown, low aflatoxin peanuts has increased exponentially over the last eight or nine years because of its mentorship by the Peanut &
Mycotoxin Innovation Lab research and extension faculty from the Universities of Georgia and Florida, Oklahoma State and Cornell University,” said MFK Executive Director Pat Wolff.
“What the faculty has taught MFK, MFK has shared with farmers in not only conversation but in demonstration plots in rural areas and at MFK's site. Together, we are improving farmer yields and incomes and also lowering the aflatoxin exposure of the population. This is agriculture as public health and nutrition.”
SFA will face similar challenges in helping farmers in the southern part of the country and plans to employ an agronomist to advise peanut farmers on issues from soil preparation to post harvest technology in order to reduce loss.
In thanking MFK for supplying the seed, SFA President Hugh Locke pointed out the strength of the groups working together toward common goals – assisting farmers to create a strong market.
“The challenge (of food security) cannot be greater when the right synergy is developed,” he said.
Through SFA, peanut farmers had requested that their seeds be delivered to them in shell in order to prevent loss from deshelling by a machine, a request that MFK’s peanut-supplier partner, Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation, was able to accommodate.
Since the hurricane, SFA has worked with 800 farm families in the southern part of the country, including 226 farmers – 75 women and 151 men – who received peanut seeds. Farmers expect to harvest the peanut crop in May of this year.
After the harvest, MFK hopes to buy the spring crop, allowing the farmers to complete a successful growing season and stabilize their operations since the storm.
Published March 27, 2017