Partnership Aims to Benefit Vanilla Farmers

Unilever, Symrise and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH will soon partner to improve the livelihoods of 4,000 vanilla farmers in the Sava region, Madagascar.

LONDONUnilever, Symrise and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH will soon partner to improve the livelihoods of 4,000 vanilla farmers in the Sava region, Madagascar.

The partnership includes a comprehensive three-year program that will impact 32 communities and involve 44 schools and colleges, giving it the potential to improve 24,000 lives in one of the worlds poorest nations. The program is partly financed within the framework of the develoPPP.de program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

Madagascar produces 79% of the worlds natural vanilla supply. Unilever uses vanilla as an ingredient in its leading ice cream brands, such as Magnum, Breyers and Carte DOr. The partnership aims to secure this vanilla supply for Unilever in the future and to support the farming communities with improved access to secondary education and training in agricultural best practices.

The program will operate through farmer field schools to both increase vanilla productivity and also encourage crop diversification. As a result, farmers can earn more money from vanilla, improve their food self-sufficiency and also sell other crops during lean periods. Consequently, it will enhance the farmers economic independence. The integrated education program will also support environmental education in primary schools through training teachers and providing teaching kits. It aims to establish a learning platform of rural agricultural colleges for vocational training of adolescents.

Throughout the project, equal opportunities will be provided to women and girl students because they represent about 50% of the communities, and they are actively involved in farm management. Between 20% and 30% of the farmer households are headed by women.

Symrise and Unilever have been working with smallholder farmers in the Sava region for a number of years already, and this partnership will accelerate plans on the ground. GIZ, in this program working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), will play a crucial role in defining how the program is developed and monitored.

A previous partnership between Symrise and GIZ from 2010 to 2012 in the Diana-Region of northern Madagascar has shown promising results: 500 farmers were trained on sustainable agricultural practices, fair-trade standards and principles of certification and marketing. They have increased their productivity and created greater income opportunities by expanding their production to include other crops. The economic situation of the farmers has greatly improved. On average, the 500 vanilla producers have benefited from a 24% increase of their incomes.

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