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Kiwi Social Enterprise Bringing Change to Superfood Industry

Kiwi Social Enterprise Bringing Change to the Superfood Industry

Seleno Health, a Wellington-based producer of maca from Peru is taking the New Zealand market by storm with their novel Farm to Table Superfood approach.

New Zealand — Seleno Health is a small family business run by Wellingtonian Dr Corin Storkey, and his Peruvian partner Jacqueline Huapaya. They both left their long-time corporate jobs with a mission to bring change to the superfood industry and empower marginalised farmers in Peru. They now primarily produce and import maca to New Zealand. Maca, a superfood which grows only in Peru, has increased in popularity around the world, and for good reason—its health benefits are unique and numerous. However, the popularity of the plant has led to unethical practices in the food industry, with large corporations profiting off the backs of small scale farmers and communities. Seleno Health is taking up arms against the exploitation of farmers in Peru and providing farmers direct access to New Zealand consumers with their Farm to Table approach.

“Why should superfoods be any different from other farm to table products in New Zealand? We want to give kiwis direct access to a farm in Peru, eliminating all the middle-men so they can know they are helping and not hurting a community when buying. Our farmer now receives up to 15-20x more per kg than before for his maca, its better than Fair trade it’s about profit sharing and partnership.” –Dr. Corin Storkey, Co-Founder of Seleno Health

Co-director Jacqueline Huapaya, a native Peruvian from a farming ancestry has found that maca farmers are extremely marginalised, often lacking basic utilities like running water, heat, electricity, reliable shelter, and access to well funded education. While corporations pressure farmers to produce more crop than they can feasibly manage—all without fair compensation. These corporate entities continue to take advantage of isolated and developing communities because the farmers don’t understand the agricultural gold mine that they are sitting on and are powerless to negotiate their terms.

“As long as this exploitation continues, these communities will continue to decay at the world’s expense. Andean farmers, who know the secrets to growing maca and other superfoods, are beginning to abandon their trade due to lack of compensation. This could lead to a rapid end to maca and many of the world’s most popular superfoods.” –Dr. Corin Storkey, Co-Founder of Seleno Health

Seleno Health is working to cut corporate greed from the superfood market to support famers. They bring maca directly from the farm to the consumer, and a generous portion of Seleno Health’s profits goes directly back to the farmer and his community. They use these profits to help fund the local school and provide much needed necessities for the children of the community. They are also linking with Victoria University of Wellington, Dr Storkey’s former University to create a research program that aims to substantiate the traditional claims made by Incan shamans surrounding the therapeutic properties of the plant.

Maca is a 2000-year-old Incan medicine that is embedded in the culture and history our people in Junin. It is celebrated in a month-long harvest festival and is integral to the management of our health. Our new research is beginning to unlock the therapeutic secrets of maca and the results are exciting. We want to preserve and protect this history and medicine and ensure it has an ethical and sustainable future” – Jacqueline Sally Huapaya, Co-founder of Seleno Health

And how are kiwis responding to their model….Since their launch in April 2017 they are now supported by over 100 speciality stores around the country with kiwis embracing their ethical and sustainable approach to business. To further consumer awareness Seleno Health also bring volunteers from New Zealand to Peru every year to live and work on a maca farm and understand the realities for the farmers and communities. “It’s about connecting people with their food and brining social change to an industry that is anything but fair. We want kiwis who eat superfoods to truly understand the realities for farmers in Peru and what better way than making them an Incan farmer for 2 weeks. Kiwis are excited about what we are doing, they are conscious consumers who want to shop ethically and sustainably” Storkey says.

They have recently published a short visual documentary on YouTube and will be running a nation-wide series of workshops during September-December at various locations around New Zealand educating Kiwis about the realities of the superfood market. For more information visit their website www.selenohealth.com for details.

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