Tuesday, 19 June 2018

Right now, vanilla is not as ‘sweet’ as you may think – here is why.

Vanilla is a highly used product to say the least, it features in a wide variety of desserts, yet there is ultimately a ‘dark side’ surrounding its production. Madagascar is home to 60 – 80% of worldwide Vanilla, (1) yet is suffering due to a large-scale vanilla shortage, making it more expensive than silver. (2) As vanilla is key to so many elements of food, Malagasy farmers are under huge pressure to produce during this shortage. Due to factors such as unpredictable crops thanks to adverse weather, and also the widespread poverty of these farmers, success in the grass-roots Vanilla market is anything but easy.

Vanilla now costs more than ten times as much as it did a few years ago - at a staggering $600 (£429) per Kilo. (2)The many companies that use Vanilla are angered by this surge in price due to lack of consistent growth, yet what are the poor farmers to do when they find it hard enough to make a stable living? The Vanilla harvest can be complicated enough, without even considering the current unstable market and unpredictable weather – even in a good season, each plant must be individually pollinated and nurtured for around 5 years to produce the required seed pods – far from a quick fix for farmers. As it takes so long to produce, when there is a shortage due to adverse conditions, this will be a threatening situation for the Malagasy farmers – where else can they turn for the crop and cash they need to survive?

Some things are for sure though – the price of Vanilla seems set to continue to rise and farmers seem set to continue to struggle – so? The Malagasy farmers really do need a helping hand. There are many ways in which we can do a little but make a big difference in Madagascar. Only a few pounds can ensure shelter, hygiene, education or sanitation. If you would be interested n making such a difference, please consider making a donation at www.moneyformadagascar/donate , Thank you.

Written by Matthew Ward