Training vanilla farmers in Madagascar

Symrise sources its Bourbon vanilla from Madagascar, an island where small-scale farming is under threat and millions live below the poverty line.

The company is committed to sourcing the vanilla responsibly by reconciling nature conservation with social commitment. Within the Symrise Responsible Sourcing model, vanilla pods are sourced directly from more than 6,000 small-scale farmers and their cooperatives.

By avoiding middlemen and working directly with farmers, Symrise improves their standard of living by providing a guaranteed income for harvests on a long-term basis. The other major benefit is that quality can be guaranteed through first-hand information, selection and purchasing.

Since 2010, the company has been working with a non-profit organisation called Fanamby – a Malagasy word for challenge – to improve rural standards of living and preserve biodiversity. Fanamby helps farmers to form cooperatives and trains them to improve the quality – and value – of their products.

For example by producing high quality organic vanilla that is Fair Trade certified, Fanamby can realise higher prices with a third of the money going to farmers, another third to community projects and the balance to environmental conservation.

“This is a genuine win-win for everyone,” says Symrise’s Global Competence Director Vanilla, Oliver Nembach. “ A reliable source of income is provided to farmers and their families. Urgently needed infrastructure can be built and natural resources protected. We can also pass on our expertise directly to suppliers and receive truly sustainable premium vanilla in return.”

Symrise has formed a partnership with the German Association for International Cooperation and devloPPP to create a model that “goes beyond Fair Trade certification”. The model aims to create better living conditions for farmers, promote education and protect traditional processes. Symrise is working on surveys to analyse farmers’ conditions with the aim of providing sustainable and fair pricing models.