A model with multiple benefits for vanilla farmers in Madagascar

Nestlé recognises sustainability projects with its Responsible Sourcing Award. In 2013, Givaudan was the recipient of an award in the Responsible Sourcing Vanilla category for its work in Madagascar. Here we partner with Henri Fraise Fils to ensure a stable supply of high quality vanilla beans, helping farmers to realise a better living. Our work and commitment also enables children to receive a better education, and provides other social and economic benefits to the local community.

Vanilla bean

Madagascar provides 80 percent of the world’s vanilla

Some of the world’s most beloved flavours rely on natural ingredients that are obtained through a complex supply chain. Vanilla is one such ingredient. Widely used in the manufacture of dairy and sweet goods, as well as fine fragrances, 80 percent of the world’s vanilla comes from Madagascar.

Givaudan’s Rural Development programme was established in 2010, when we entered into a partnership agreement with Henri Fraise Fils, a well-known vanilla beans exporter that has been operating in Madagascar for generations.

Vanilla supply from Madagascar is complex, due to a rural structure made up by thousands of small farmers. This raises traceability questions in the supply chain, as well as social and sustainability issues. The Rural Development programme aims at improving supply chain transparency and producers' living conditions.

When the programme began in 2010 we initially worked with 14 villages that rely on vanilla production for their livelihood. Since 2010, this figure has increased to 26 villages, representing some 2000 organic vanilla farmers in total.

Improving food supply, education, revenue and water

The close relationship that Givaudan has established in the local community ensures a constant supply of quality vanilla for adding flavours to foods, beverages and for use in fragrances, which our customers expect and rely upon.

The initiative helps producers in a number of ways, as Laetitia, Givaudan’s Responsible Sourcing Partnerships Manager, notes: “The first area of support is in food security. We finance training in a rice intensification production programme, which enables more than one thousand farmers to double the amount of rice they can harvest every year.”

The second element is education. Laetitia continues: “Through improving the local educational infrastructure by building schools we can help the prospects of children to enter successfully into adulthood. As well as the construction of the schools we also supply furniture and educational materials, and we are committed to an ongoing investment in this area. To date, we have been involved in the construction or repair and maintenance of 16 schools.”

Additionally, the programme promotes alternative revenue streams, such as beekeeping, handicrafts, livestock and fishery. It also helps to provide better access to water and to health, and the first health care centre was built in 2013.

An award-winning initiative

Laetitia, is responsible for overseeing our collaboration with Nestlé. She explains the scope of the Responsible Sourcing Prize, and how Nestlé continues to provide support and funds to help realise our goals in Madagascar: “Givaudan submitted the programme as an entry in Nestlé’s Responsible Sourcing Prize in 2013, and was chosen as award recipient, receiving not only recognition but also a significant donation in 2014. This has enabled us to extend an existing secondary school in Anjinjaomby with three new classrooms in the same year. Over 550 children from eight villages attend this school. We also built a new primary school in Antakôly, benefitting 168 children.”

On-going commitment

In addition to the primary award, Nestlé has committed to donating additional funds, and Givaudan is currently determining, together with our local partners, the best allocation for these extra reserves, as Laetitia notes: “It could be used to support many aspects of the programme. However, it’s important to stress that no decisions are taken without the input of local people. This is their community, and we expect them to be fully involved and committed. For example, villagers have provided materials and labour to help construct the new schools. We’re not here to dictate, but to facilitate what local people need most.”

Givaudan’s Rural Development programme in Madagascar is a perfect example of creating mutual benefits: what’s good for our business is also good for the local farmers and the extended community.