Lavi Spicy Peanut Butter is Unlocking International Markets
The investments from USAID’s Haiti INVEST project are boosting incomes for smallholder farmers.
By Amelia Mecklenburg, USAID/Haiti English Editor & Carolanne Chanik, INVEST Communications Advisor
Saintania is a peanut grower based in Mirebalais, Haiti, and one of more than 7,400 smallholder farmers working with agribusiness Acceso Haiti.
Acceso works closely with buyers and smallholder farmers like Saintania to boost production quality and crop volumes, efficiently aggregate products, and provide logistical solutions to ensure timely delivery to market.
Saintiana had been struggling to farm her small plot of land in a productive way and generate enough consistent income to support her family.
“Before working with Acceso, I didn’t know how to grow peanuts, much less earn a profit from them,” explains Saintania. “But now with my training from the organization, I make more money than ever from my peanut parcel, and I can pay for my family’s needs, like my children’s tuition fees.”
Making a living through farming is no easy feat for the average Haitian.
Haitian farmers operate on small tracts of land, on average about 1.5 hectares, making it difficult to produce enough crops to earn a profit. Additionally, lack of access to quality seeds, credit, and proper mechanization makes farming in Haiti very challenging.
Even if farmers manage to produce a sufficient volume of crops, they will face more obstacles on the journey to the market. Poor road conditions and lack of proper storage facilities can damage or spoil the farmer’s crops before they reach the market. Farmers also face complex and informal market chains that make it hard to get a fair price for their products.
These obstacles are not only preventing farmers from making a decent income, but they are also reducing the amount of locally produced food available for purchase. As a result, Haiti has become dependent on imported food to feed its growing population and remains the most food-insecure country in the Western Hemisphere, according to the USDA.
These challenges associated with farming in Haiti affect 68% of the Haitian population who rely on farming to provide for their families. “We need change, and that starts with assistance to growers,” says Saintania.
What is USAID doing to address this problem?
USAID launched Haiti INVEST in 2018 to promote and facilitate private investment in Haitian small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) such as Acceso. In collaboration with a network of transaction advisors, such as CrossBoundary, Haiti INVEST is connecting SMEs with capital providers to increase investments and grow the Haitian economy.
“We’ve been committed to this market for almost six years now, and we want to see Haiti continue to grow sustainably through private sector investment,” says Jamie McInerney, associate principal at CrossBoundary. “We’re excited to help make that happen.”
Through Haiti INVEST, CrossBoundary facilitated a 20% equity investment in Acceso from the Community Organized Relief Effort (CORE), a nonprofit organization co-founded by actor Sean Penn and Ann Lee that is dedicated to saving lives and strengthening marginalized communities affected by or vulnerable to crisis. With CORE’s equity investment, Acceso seeks to expand its network of farmers, double farmers’ yields and incomes, and scale up new export business lines, such as Lavi Spicy Peanut Butter.
Lavi Spicy Peanut Butter is unlocking international markets.
“Spicy peanut butter is a delicious staple of the Haitian diet, yet it’s not widely available in the U.S.,” says Jamie.
Following significant market research, taste tests, and customer surveys in the United States, Acceso launched Lavi Spicy Peanut Butter with the goal of unlocking new markets for farmers, processors, and workers in Haiti.
“With this new investment, we hope to see this product expand and be sold in stores like Whole Foods in the U.S.,” Jamie adds.
“It’s very delicious, and I am personally happy to see that the result of my work here in Haiti being appreciated in other countries,” adds Saintania, whose peanut crop goes into some of the jars along with those of the other Haitian farmers.
Acceso is giving back to the community at home.
In addition to boosting farmers’ incomes, Acceso will use the investment to expand its locally sourced school feeding program, providing nutritious meals to 8,000 students daily. Acceso plans to double the number of new trees planted at its nursery and connect new crops, like mango, lime, and moringa, to markets. Acceso also plans to offer more full-time jobs, support infrastructure improvements, and provide community food kitchens and farmers relief kits during times of crisis.
“This is just the start of the changes we need in this country,” says Saintania. “We’re finally starting to get more assistance as farmers to produce more sustainable incomes for Haitian families.”