Bitter tasting vanilla: Fairfood & CNV publish report on plight facing vanilla farmers in Madagascar

19 December 2016

Fairfood and CNV Internationaal’s latest report examines the riches that vanilla production delivers, and the abject poverty many vanilla farmers experience. Fairfood and CNV Internationaal’s report `Bittersweet Vanilla. The unsavoury story of vanilla farmers in Madagascar’s Sava Region’ thoroughly investigates these issues in the vanilla market, and identifies a host of interventions that will improve the situation of farmers in Madagascar.

Vanilla is one of the most expensive and widely exported spices in the world, yet the large majority of the 80,000 smallholder vanilla farmers do not see this reflected in their income and are often even unable to provide food for themselves and their families. Indeed, more than 75 per cent of farmers live below the poverty line of $1.90 per day.

However, there are a number of concrete changes that can be made to ensure vanilla farmers have the possibility of a brighter future, and some companies are taking initial steps to remedy some of the problems. Fairfood and CNV Internationaal have devised a list of solutions to address these problems including measures to tackle vanilla theft, such as checkpoints, the tattooing of vanilla pods and the establishment of defence groups, as well as capacity training to help vanilla farmers organise and gain vital knowledge on topics such as modern agricultural techniques, financial planning, entrepreneurship. Fairfood has also held constructive dialogues with major multinationals who hold significant power in the value chain. Much of the power to effect change lies with these multinational companies.

Key issues for farmers and proposed interventions

Bittersweet Vanilla-4

Read the report