What makes vanilla sustainable and what is Barry Callebaut doing to impact the livelihoods of vanilla farmers? Read more to find out.
DIVERSIFICATION OF INCOME
Why sustainable vanilla? An extremely popular ingredient, vanilla is the world’s most popular taste and the second most expensive spice in the world, but it’s an extremely labor-intensive crop. The mainly small-holder farmers in Madagascar have a precarious livelihood, driven by their sole dependence on this crop, extreme weather situations, a lack of financial support and a volatile vanilla market.
Together with vanilla supplier Prova, who has extensive vanilla know-how and an ongoing social development program for vanilla farmers in Madagascar, and supported by IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, Barry Callebaut is adding its cocoa and sustainable agronomic expertise to diversify vanilla farmers’ incomes via fine flavor cocoa crops, coach them on sustainable agricultural practices, and enable them to professionalize their businesses, thereby helping to improve the livelihoods of vanilla farmers and create a sustainable supply of this key chocolate ingredient. Through the program, farmers are also trained in the traditional Malagasy way of curing vanilla, thus enabling them to perform this value added step which results in a better income for the farmer as well as higher quality vanilla. Finally, Barry Callebaut and Prova are implementing community development initiatives such as a library and school program, further targeting the improvement of livelihoods of farmers and their families.
But as on any journey, there are roadblocks and deviations. In March 2017, a cyclone hit Madagascar in the SAVA region where our program takes place. Prova and Barry Callebaut each pledged CHF 50,000 to immediately support the needs of farmers impacted by the storm. This cyclone is exactly what we aim to protect against in the future - so that farmers have another source of income in case their vanilla crop, and therefore their income, is severely impacted in any particular year.
How can this benefit you and how can you get involved? Securing the future of our chocolate ingredients is in all of our interests. But a more immediate positive impact will be on your business - via enhanced reputation, consumer engagement, and added brand value. We're working hard to provide customers with sustainable vanilla in their chocolate. If you'd like to get involved, we'd be happy to provide more information and estimate the availability of such products. Reach out to your sales representative to learn more.