Earlier this week, we launched the Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation, a Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership venture in conjunction with Fundación Carlos Slim, which aims to improve the supply chain of peanut farms in Haiti. President Clinton and Canadian philanthropist Frank Giustra visited one of the depots that are providing peanut farmers with training, supplies, and a market for their harvests. Five of these depots have already opened, and 35 are planned throughout Haiti, which will improve the livelihoods of more than 12,000 peanut farmers and bring positive change to their communities. We talked with Robert Johnson, the General Manager of the Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation to learn more about how they are generating social and economic opportunities for peanut farmers. Read our Q&A with Robert below:
1) The Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership, one of the Clinton Foundation’s 11 initiatives, works to alleviate poverty through a market-driven approach. Can you give us some insight on the model that the Enterprise Partnership uses to alleviate poverty?
The Enterprise Partnership combines the best of non-profit and for-profit approaches to create new enterprises that capitalize market opportunities to generate social impact and financial returns. The Enterprise Partnership believes there is great potential to enhance the economic and social benefits of marginalized communities through three “market-driven” models – Distribution Enterprises, Supply Chain Enterprises, and Training Center Enterprises. With peanuts in Haiti, we're using the Supply Chain Enterprise model to fill the many voids in the peanut value chain that prevent growers from making more money and keep buyers from being able to buy high-quality, cost-competitive local peanuts. Peanut farmers want to work and processors want to buy Haitian peanuts - we're basically working to make this possible and profitable for everyone.
2) This week, the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership launched a new venture in Haiti that will improve 12,000 peanut farmers’ incomes. Why did the Enterprise Partnership decide to launch this program in Haiti?
The Enterprise Partnership saw an opportunity with peanuts in Haiti to significantly impact the incomes thousands of growers, while responding to growing unmet needs of large domestic processors. Despite a growing domestic demand, peanut yields in Haiti are well below world averages and farmers are making less and less money each year. The Enterprise Partnership believes it can reverse this decline in productivity while increasing farmer incomes by as much as 300%, as well as help large processors buy more local peanuts and prevent import substitution.
3) What are some of the struggles that these farmers face on a regular basis in Haiti and how will this program help smallholder peanut farmers, their families, and their community?
We often say that we'd probably see similar yields and profitability in key peanut production countries like the US or Argentina, if their farmers faced the same challenges that Haitian farmers do. Haitian peanut farmers have been on their own for a long time now, meaning little to no access to inputs, services, or profitable markets to sell their peanuts into. We're stepping in to make these peanut-focused inputs and credit available in their communities via our network of depots, paired with training and follow up to make sure farmers use these products correctly and run their farms more like businesses. Similarly on the marketing side, we eliminate the need for dozens of trips to local markets to sell their peanuts, giving premium prices at our depots immediately following harvest.
4) As the General Manager of the Acceso Peanut Enterprise Corporation, an enterprise created by the Clinton Giustra Enterprise Partnership in conjunction with Fundacion Carlos Slim, you get to see the direct impact these programs have on these underserved communities. How do you anticipate the programs to impact these communities over the long-term?
Although we've just begun, it's easy to see the tremendous potential impact of our Supply Chain Enterprise in each of the communities where we operate. In most of these communities, peanuts are the most important cash crop - meaning if we increase peanut yield and income, farmers will have more money to invest in other crops and businesses. This, paired with profitable markets to sell into, allows farmers to diversify their risk and start creating a more productive portfolio of assets, such as lime or mango micro-orchards, equipment, cows or goats. So in summary, our intent to triple the incomes of thousands of peanut farmers throughout the country will likely impact much more than peanuts alone, but the quality of life of families in these communities as a whole.
Read the Acceso Peanut Enterprise announcement.