Haiti: sourcing vetiver at its roots
The most exquisite vetiver in the world is grown on the island of Haiti, where economic and natural upheavals in recent years have threatened the livelihoods of many local producers of this highly-prized ingredient. Given this challenging environment, how does Givaudan work to safeguard the supply of vetiver and support the island’s producer communities? By ‘thinking local and acting local’, we found a way to generate new value in the supply, to be shared by all.
Sometimes the most astonishing natural ingredients are to be found in the more fragile places of the world. Vetiver – a scented, golden oil with an elegant personality and smoky aroma – is no exception. It is highly prized in the fragrance industry for its intensity and natural synergy with other raw materials.
The most exquisite vetiver in the world is grown on the island of Haiti, where economic and natural upheavals in recent years have threatened the lives and livelihoods of thousands of vetiver-growing smallholders and their families. Despite the turmoil of the recent past, the island is still one of the world’s largest producers of this versatile oil, which we use in our fragrance creations.
In order to secure our supply of vetiver in this challenging environment, we knew we had to get closer to the source, where we could work in partnership with local producers and play a role in helping their communities to build a more stable existence.
Since 2012, therefore, Givaudan has been collaborating with a local supplier to support a cooperative of vetiver root producers from three villages. Today, with more than 260 members, the cooperative benefits from a premium on the price of its vetiver roots, and this premium feeds a development fund that is used to support community projects and the local supply chain.
For example, the fund has paid for repairs to a road through hilly country, which links the producer villages and the vetiver distillery. The new road makes it much easier to transport the roots and has also opened up better access to healthcare and other essential amenities. Electricity has also been brought to the villages, thanks to the fund.
“Members of the cooperative also receive advice on good agricultural practices, particularly on how to limit soil erosion and improve the quality of the roots.” says Wilson, Local Manager of the Coopérative des Planteurs de Vétiver de Massey, Faucault, Bazelais.
The cooperative and our local supplier have achieved Ecocert Organic Standard and fair trade certification (ESR standard), which ensures minimum prices, improved working conditions for everybody in the supply chain in Haiti, and validates the social and environmental responsibility of vetiver production. The certification also ensures full traceability of the raw material.