The Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) commits to scaling its extensive work with small-scale farmers in Haiti to create and implement a new moringa value chain that will secure a portion of the rapidly growing international market for moringa leaf powder on behalf of the smallholder farmers of Haiti.
SFA, with the support of the Clinton Foundation, has brought together the partners who are now working on completing this value chain working with 730 farmers, 500 of which are women. The US-based Kuli Kuli company is creating a new food product made from Haitian smallholder grown-and-processed moringa leaf powder. Whole Foods Market will introduce this new food product through a minimum of 150 of its US stores. Fairtrasa International is helping to explore the establishment of a for-profit company to export and market Haitian moringa. World Central Kitchen is advising on the nutritional value of moringa and its potential use in school feeding programs. The Prodem company is advising participating smallholder farmers in the harvesting and processing of moringa leaves to achieve international food safety standards. The Ministry of the Environment is providing input to ensure that the cultivation of moringa trees contributes to the larger goals of the Ministry. Canadian-based POS Bio-Sciences is undertaking research into the process for extracting oil from the moringa bean for eventual sale to the fragrance industry as well as the possibility of using the seed cake for water filtration. Timberland, which is the founding corporate sponsor of the SFA through their completed CGI commitment to plant five million trees in five years in Haiti, is providing business advice on structuring the overall value chain to ensure that it is sustainable. Timberland, through its sponsorship of the SFA, is also responsible for around 15,000 of the moringa trees being planted as part of this initiative.
The design of the value chain will incorporate three significant innovations.
First, a new business model will be developed that fully integrates smallholder farmers from field to shelf as growers, processors and shareholders in a new commercial export company. Cutting out traditional third party exporters means farmers will be assured a better price, as the new export company is created for this purpose. Participating farm cooperatives will receive shares so they become part owners. And this new company will explore the export of other smallholder crops in addition to moringa in order to make this a sustainable venture.
Second, a new self-financing model for transforming abandoned farmland into full productivity will be included. Land will be leased for $1 a year for ten years and cultivated as intensive moringa tree operation with under-planting of field crops. After ten years it will be returned to the original owners as a working farm, but in the interim period all profits revert to the farm cooperative managing it.
Third, the value chain will ensure women farmers are assisted to establish and expand small businesses for processing the moringa leaves into powder. This includes technical and business training along with a combination of grants and loans for the machinery and physical setup required. And in the overall operation of the value chain, 50% of the 10 permanent and four part-time jobs will be filled by women.
The new product line that Kuli Kuli is developing with Haitian smallholder grown and processed moringa is an energy shot, the popular two-ounce liquid drinks that are often marketed as providing five hours of energy. Energy shots are the fastest-growing segment of the $4.6 billion energy drink market.
The SFA will also apply its proven model of providing extensive agricultural trainingincluding plant spacing, irrigation methods, natural pest control and harvest techniquesin order to improve the capacity of smallholder farmers to manage their own improved operations.
In the pre-commitment phase over the past several months, SFA has provided technical and financial assistance to improve the quality of moringa trees grown by three existing and independent smallholder farmer cooperatives.
Land Restoration (Jan to Sept 2016): a five-hectare abandoned farm will be restored and turned into an intensive moringa operation, pioneering a new model in which land is leased for $1 a year for ten years and then turned back to the owners as a working farm.
Support to Womens Cooperatives (Sept 2015 to May 2016): a team of women farmers within each cooperative will be assisted to create or expand small businesses for the onsite drying and milling of the moringa leaves grown by their respective cooperative.
Initial Export (Sept to Dec 2015): the SFA will serve as purchaser and exporter of moringa leaf powder in order to meet initial contract needs.
Product Development and Promotion (Sept to Dec 2015): Kuli Kuli will develop a new line of Moringa SuperGreen Energy Shots made exclusively from moringa purchased from Haiti smallholder farmers.
Product Sales (Jan to Sept 2016): the new Moringa SuperGreen Energy Shots will be sold exclusively at Whole Foods Market stores beginning January 1, 2016.
Long-Term Export and Marketing (Jan to Sept 2016): all farmer members, through their respective cooperative, will sell their moringa leaf powder to a new for profit company being created for this purpose: Fairtrasa Haiti. This new country division of Fairtrasa International AG will include shares allocated to the three cooperatives growing moringa.
Organic Certification (Nov 2015 to Jun 2016): an authorized agent of USDA Organic will be selected to begin the process to certify specific farmers involved in growing moringa from within the three participating cooperatives.
Future Oil Products (Oct to Sept 2016): working with POS Bio-Sciences to explore future products made from oil extracted from the moringa bean seed.
Moringa oleifera is a tree that is native to South Asia and has a unique range of properties that make it one of the most versatile on the planet and known to many as the miracle tree. Its exceptionally high nutrient content also qualifies it as a superfood.
The Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) released a study in February 2016 that identified the potential for smallholders in Haiti to take part in a growing global market for moringa products that is currently over $4 billion a year. There is currently no export of moringa from Haitilinking Haitian smallholders to the global moringa market can establish an important source of income for Haitis farmers.
The study found that the dried leaves from the fast-growing moringa tree, which is found throughout the country, contain nine essential amino acids, 27 vitamins, and 46 antioxidants, making it one of the most nutrient dense plants on earth. Just one tablespoon of dried moringa leaf powder is the equivalent of a full serving of vegetables plus a multivitamin combined, making it a valuable tool for improving nutrition.
The SFA study noted that moringa for the local market in Haiti, where it is popular for its health benefits, is already being grown and processed by smallholder farmers. The challenge is to scale up production for both the local and export markets, thereby greatly improving Haitian moringa farmers livelihoods. Both can be addressed by focusing on the latter: what is needed is a customized agricultural value chain that connects Haitian smallholders with the export market for moringa, and in the process helps them address the quality, quantity, and continuity issues that are often an insurmountable barrier for smallholders.