Haitian peanut farmers, including the MFK farmers’ network, face a number of constraints and challenges that greatly impact their production and revenue. As part of the MFK training program, farmers have training sessions to learn about the benefits of keeping records of expenses and benefits and compare the way agriculture is managed in Haiti and other countries. The most recent session on these topics took place in late November.
In the training session, the group discussed how Haitian peanut farmers harvest more than two times less on the same amount of land when compared to peanut farmers in other countries-- this is due to productivity and the price of peanuts, which tend to be higher in Haiti. They also explored the findings of several reports from the last decade which claim that a US peanut farmer harvests approximately 1,440 kg in ¼ carreau (equivalent to ¾ of an acre,) farmers in China harvest 1,344 kg, and farmers in Ghana harvest 576 kg, while Haitian farmers only harvest 192 kg for the same amount of land.
Why the large difference? During the lesson, we opened the floor to both the participants in the farmer training and the MFK agronomists to share why they think the gap between US farmers and Haitian is that drastic.
Many of the participants claim that the use of traditional techniques and outdated tools, manual agriculture, and non-motorized mechanical methods are the primary reason. They are so limited manually that they can’t compete with other farmers. Another reason the participants pointed out is that there is no agricultural insurance or loans, and with the type of government that you have in Haiti, they do not subsidize anything for the farmers.
Another group of farmers claims that they do not have good storage capacities as farmers in these other countries do. They also said there is no public research, as MFK is the only organization that has an extension and training services program available in particular areas. As small-scale farmers, they have limited capacity to invest and there is a lack of local regional and national co-op or organizations to represent the interest of the farmers. In 2021, infrastructure remains a major issue and challenge, because farmers are in great difficulty to transport their goods from one place to another, road access is very difficult and they rely entirely on rainfall as irrigation infrastructure is nonexistent.
The challenges and constraints are numerous and overwhelming. MFK Agriculture department has been working with these farmers for over 15 years now to overcome these challenges and does not plan to stop anytime soon. Beyond the challenges, there are many opportunities that peanut farmers can benefit from. It’s clear that the domestic demand for peanuts exceeds the current supply, giving the farmers the ability to quickly sell their products due to the demand being high and the nutritional value of peanuts as a product. The sector has plenty of room to grow and to create jobs. With reliable quality control techniques, there is hope that one day they might be able to export Haitian peanuts to other countries throughout the world.