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Wednesday
Feb172016

New Whole Foods Market Products Connect Haiti Farmers to U.S. Consumers

Haitian smallholder farmers holding moringa leaves and cacao pods along with the new products made
from each: Kuli Kuli’s Moringa Green Energy shots (left) and Taza Chocolate’s Stone Ground Haiti
bar (right). These two items debuted at Whole Foods Market in the U.S. this month, marking an export
milestone for Haitian agriculture. Photo: Sebastian Petion.

How a Natural Energy Shot and an Organic Chocolate Bar Are Changing Agriculture in Haiti

PORT-AU-PRINCE, HAITI, February 17, 2016 -- Two new products debuted this month in the U.S. at Whole Foods Market stores nationwide—Kuli Kuli’s Moringa Green Energy shots and Taza Chocolate’s Stone Ground Haiti bar—and ingredients for both are sourced directly from smallholder farmers in Haiti. This direct market access, combined with helping farmers to improve and expand, means increased incomes in Haiti while consumers in the U.S. benefit from high quality products. And for a severely deforested nation like Haiti, an additional benefit is that more trees get planted as both items are derived from trees. 

This story is also about helping to transform agriculture in Haiti by working with small-scale family farmers as micro businesses rather than charity recipients. Smallholder farm income goes up as a result of various combinations of organic agricultural training, better quality non-hybrid seed, access to financial services and direct market connections via two pioneers in this field. In the case of moringa, the pioneer is the non-profit Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA), with support from the Clinton Foundation. And for the cacao bean used to make chocolate, it is the for-profit company Produits des Iles, S.A. (PISA). 

“We help connect Haitian farmers directly to export markets,” said Hugh Locke, President of the SFA, “as well as providing services like improved seed, tools and training to help them better manage their farms in the face of increasing drought conditions. And these agricultural services are earned by farmers planting trees, which in turn helps address the severe deforestation that is one of the main causes of the country’s ongoing drought.”

The leaves of the Moringa oleifera tree have entered the pantheon of superfoods by virtue of exceptional amounts of protein along with 27 vitamins and 46 antioxidants. One of the most nutrient dense plants on earth, around 80,000 of these trees are being cultivated by smallholder farmers in Haiti. A network of women farmers’ cooperatives clean and process the leaves, transforming them into the powder that is in high demand by both Haitian and U.S. consumers. Kuli Kuli incorporates the resulting powder into a Moringa Green Energy shot that is similar to a caffeinated green smoothie.

Cacao trees have long been cultivated in Haiti for their bean used in making chocolate, but with minimum benefit to the smallholder farmers who historically have been the primary growers. Taza Chocolate is changing this dynamic as the first U.S. ‘bean to bar’ chocolate maker to import organic, premium grade Haitian cacao. As part of its Direct Trade program, Taza pays more than twice the premium required by Fair Trade certification in exchange for specialty cacao grown by 1,500 smallholder farmers sustainably managing close to 2,000 acres of organic certified land. 

“It is exciting that an energy shot and a chocolate bar are connecting Haitian smallholder farmers to the shelves at Whole Foods,” said Haiti-born actor Jimmy Jean-Louis, who appears in NBC’s Heroes Reborn and Arrow as well as the Oscar-nominated film Joy, “and that both products support the planting of more trees to help our country’s recovery.”

About Kuli Kuli

Kuli Kuli is the first company to sell moringa food products in the US. The leaves of the Moringa tree are more nutritious than kale and provide a complete protein, similar to quinoa. Over 60% of Americans say that incorporating more vegetables/greens into their diet is their #1 priority, but many find it difficult to get their greens at meals other than dinner. Kuli Kuli's delicious Moringa Superfood Bars, Pure Moringa Powder and Moringa Green Energy shots make it easy for Americans to get their greens on the go while helping to plant moringa trees and support women farmers in the developing world. To learn more, please visit www.kulikulifoods.com.

About Taza Chocolate

Taza Chocolate’s mission is to make and share stone ground chocolate that is seriously good and fair for all. At their Somerville, MA factory, chocolate makers stone-grind organic cacao beans into perfectly unrefined, minimally processed chocolate with bold flavor and texture. All Taza Chocolate is Certified USDA Organic, Non-GMO Project Verified, Certified Gluten Free, dairy free, soy free, vegan, and kosher. Taza is a pioneer in ethical cacao sourcing. They were the first U.S. chocolate maker to establish a third-party certified Direct Trade Cacao Certification program. They maintain direct relationships with cacao farmers and pay a premium above the Fair Trade price for exceptional cacao. To learn more, please visit www.tazachocolate.com. 

About Smallholder Farmers Alliance

The Smallholder Farmers Alliance (SFA) applies business solutions to help feed and reforest a renewed Haiti by establishing market-based farmer cooperatives, building agricultural export markets, creating rural farm businesses and contributing to community development.  To date, this self-sustaining business model has helped 3,200 farmers increase productivity on their farmlands an average of 40 percent, resulting in increased household income of 50 percent, on average. The program has also resulted in increased access to education and healthcare, including an estimated 3,400 additional children of SFA members placed in school. Over 5 million trees have been planted since the program’s inception. Timberland is the SFA’s founding corporate sponsor. The SFA story has been documented in a film titled, “KOMBIT: The Cooperative.”

About PISA

Produits des Iles, S.A. (PISA) is a young and dynamic agro-business who's objective is to make a change in Haitian agricultural chains through direct trade and innovative partnerships with organized farmer groups, bringing value and pride to their production. The company is part of the Haitian group REBO, with over forty years of experience in the coffee sector and other food products. PISA offers high end, organic certified, fermented cocoa beans from the north of Haiti through a partnership with APROCANO, a cocoa coop of over 1,500 small growers.  In season, PISA buys fresh cocoa daily from them at competitive farm gate prices; off-season this alliance offers farmers technical assistance in the field, inputs, tools and seedlings. PISA's central fermentation facility guarantees a meticulous process, and the resulting bean has already impressed fine bean to bar chocolate makers. To learn more, please visit https://web.facebook.com/Produits-des-Iles-SA-946984265348805/ 

About Clinton Foundation

The Clinton Foundation convenes businesses, governments, NGOs, and individuals to improve global health and wellness, increase opportunity for girls and women, reduce childhood obesity, create economic opportunity and growth, and help communities address the effects of climate change. Because of our work, more than 31,000 American schools are providing kids with healthy food choices in an effort to eradicate childhood obesity; more than 105,000 farmers in Malawi, Rwanda, and Tanzania are benefiting from climate-smart agronomic training, higher yields, and increased market access; more than 33,500 tons of greenhouse gas emissions are being reduced annually across the United States; over 450,000 people have been impacted through market opportunities created by social enterprises in Latin America, the Caribbean, and Asia; through the independent Clinton Health Access Initiative, 9.9 million people in more than 70 countries have access to CHAI-negotiated prices for HIV/AIDS medications; an estimated 85 million people in the U.S. will be reached through strategic health partnerships developed across industry sectors at both the local and national level; and members of the Clinton Global Initiative community have made more than 3,400 Commitments to Action, which have improved the lives of over 430 million people in more than 180 countries.

Learn more at http://www.clintonfoundation.org, on Facebook at Facebook.com/ClintonFoundation and on Twitter @ClintonFdn.

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