engage your senses

Discovering the roots of masculinity in Haiti

Like fine wine, the longer you distill the languorously smoky roots of the native Indonesian grass vetiver, the richer the aroma.

Related to lemongrass, vetiver invokes images of freshly tilled soil and chopped wood. Popular in male perfumery for these strong earthy overtones, it is in huge demand and implementing sustainable farming methods is essential for its future supply.

More than 50% of the world’s vetiver (all from ‘Vetiveria zizanioides’) supply is produced in Haiti. Although it is also grown in Indonesia, India, Brazil, Madagascar, the Haitian variety is finer, more balanced and multi-faceted. Originally used in agriculture to fight soil erosion, vetiver emerged in the 18th Century as an elegant scent for male perfumes.

For every bottle of perfume

In Haiti, thousands of families in Haiti directly uphold the traditional craft of vetiver cultivation. By partnering with Agri-Supply and encouraging the creation a cooperative made up of hundreds of Haitian growers from the Massey, Faucault and Bazelais villages, Givaudan was able to provide local farmers and distillers with pricing and infrastructure benefits, while strengthening the supply chain. These included guaranteed minimum prices, regular technical support and environmental best practices for harvesting and distilling processes. The vetiver oil produced with roots from the villages is now Ecocert Organic and fair trade certified, ensuring sustainable stewardship of the land.

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The road to a better future

The cooperative also benefits from a development fund, financed by Givaudan and Agri-Supply. By using the fund to repair a road that served these three villages, vetiver can be transported more quickly to the distillery. Social benefits have arisen, too: for example, pregnant women can now reach medical attention in time for birth. By strengthening the connection between the three villages, and local people now have easier access to the region’s infrastructures and amenities.

Facts about vetiver

  • 150 kg of roots of vetiver is required to make just 1 kg of essence.
  • Smoky, hay-like odour.
  • Roots must reach at least 1 metre to be harvested.
  • It takes 12 months to grow.
  • Haiti produces over 50% of the world’s vetiver supply.

More on vetiver

> Haiti: sourcing vetiver at its roots



Ethical sourcing programme

Sustainable actions such as these are a result of our ‘Ethical sourcing’ programme, whereby we selected special ingredients to protect and nurture over the long-term. This programme recognises the importance of maintaining the world’s supplies of unique raw materials. By operating sustainable business models involving people, products, the environment and society, the future of these resources can blossom.

Read more about our other ethical sourcing programmes below:

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