Madagascar is the largest producer of vanilla in the world. The sector alone represents 85% of the global market. It has however undergone various upheavals, from the decreasing quality of vanilla to dramatic changes in local climatic conditions, inflated prices and endemic corruption.
Working on behalf of a leading client in the agri-food and spices sector, our expert took an active part in developing a wide array of positive impact programs targeting the resilience of vanilla farmers.
Most of the vanilla production in Madagascar is concentrated in fairly limited but extremely vulnerable area. The island is regularly hit by climatic disasters (cyclones, droughts) which directly impact the quality and availability of vanilla. This logically increases the pressures manufacturers and suppliers typically face. As such, the program involved lifting the following chokeholds:
- Working beyond traditional levers of vanilla quality (length of pods, moisture content) together with a group of 1000 trusted farmers;
- Ensuring traceability and quality from planting to the packaging stage;
- Exploring quality-based reward mechanisms to gain and sustain farmer support and loyalty;
- Revisiting the maturation process through expert input in order to stabilize product quality product in a consistent manner.
This client engagement brought our expert to adopt a 3-stage program implementation approach:
- Diagnosis: The first step consisted in drawing up an inventory, establishing an assessment of current practices on and off farms and ultimately identifying the typography of farmers. This culminated in a technical analysis of the vanilla crop cycle and identification of cultivation hotspots directly linked to Covid-19.
- Development: This second step allowed our expert to validate training messaging for local vanilla farmers as well as the associated performance indicators. That way, training contents were readjusted, based on their feedback and local context.
- Implementation: The proposed was finally implemented on a large scale thanks to a group of 1000 local vanilla farmers. In effect, training capacities we extended to other farmers and factories, while monitoring impact based on agreed-upon indicators.
CONCLUSION & NEXT STEPS
Our expert joined forces with strategic partners and non-profits to combine the required agronomy, technological, supply chain management and certification expertise. This multifaceted approach proved essential for a successful program operationalization. This indeed culminated in strengthening the integration of single women and youths of a working age in the vanilla sector. This was made possible through the development of a “Rural Family House” to share knowledge and foster social inclusion.