Cocoa farming to start in Madagascan vanilla region

Chocolate and cocoa products manufacturer Barry Callebaut and Prova, a producer of vanilla extracts and flavours, are joining forces to introduce cocoa farming to Madagascar’s vanilla production region.

The aim is to diversify and stabilise revenues of vanilla farmers, allowing them to be less dependent on the highly volatile vanilla market. With around 80,000 vanilla producers, Madagascar is one of the most important producers of vanilla globally. Vanilla is harvested and sold from July to December, leading to an income gap of at least five months.

With additional services, the project is also set to increase levels of vanilla curing at the farm level and support the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP).

The joint project activities will also improve the livelihoods of the vanilla farmers located in the district of Bemanevika in the SAVA region, the main vanilla growing area in Madagascar.

Barry Callebaut will apply its cocoa expertise in association with Prova’s local vanilla know-how, creating synergies on the ground for the benefit of the local vanilla farmers. Both Barry Callebaut and Prova will fund and support local communities through social, health and education programmes. IDH, the Sustainable Trade Initiative, will support Barry Callebaut’s and Prova’s project with professional consulting services as well as financing.

The project will run over the next five years. First results regarding the newly introduced cocoa production are expected after three years.

Alessandra Ognibene-Lerouvillois, chief sustainability officer at Prova, “Our objective is to enable the planters to become stakeholders in their own development, take ownership of these projects and ensure their long-term sustainability. All our efforts are working towards this goal.”

Oliver von Hagen, sustainability manager global sourcing at Barry Callebaut, added, “This project will support farmers in being prepared for a less favorable future vanilla market. It also helps us as a company, securing a significant amount of our vanilla needs from a sustainable source.”

While Jan Gilhuis, senior programme manager at IDH, noted, “This is a unique and promising collaboration of experienced supply chain partners, bringing joint investments and technical knowledge on two distinct and valuable commodities together in the promotion of farm income diversification and sustainable farming.”

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