The “Vanilla – fair and sustainable” initiative is supporting vanilla farmers in Madagascar with education, fair prices and sustainable farming methods. Its purpose is to eliminate social and economic constraints that keep vanilla farmers trapped in a cycle of poverty and to thereby ensure better living conditions for 50,000 people in the grower communities of the SAVA region. The development partnership between Symrise, Unilever, the German Society for International Cooperation (GIZ) and the “Save the Children” aid organization has now been nominated for Europe’s biggest environmental prize, the GreenTec Award, in the Sustainable Development category. Ten innovative, environmentally friendly projects that seek to demonstrate that sustainability and profitability can go hand in hand competed for the nomination in the area of “Sustainable Development”. Three finalists were selected from these ten projects by a public online vote and a jury comprising 60 experts. “The nomination is an important recognition of our commitment to greater sustainability in our supply chain,” says Friedrich-Wilhelm Micus, who is responsible for sustainability communication at Symrise. “This strengthens our conviction that we have taken the right path with our support of vanilla farmers.” It remains to be seen who will take home the prestigious award: The winner will be announced in May together with the winners of the 13 other categories as part of a gala dinner in Berlin. “It goes without saying that we have high ambitions and want to win,” says Friedrich-Wilhelm Micus. “But the GreenTec Awards are about more than winning. They shift attention to numerous ideas and projects that use innovations and modern technologies to successfully combine ethics, environmental protection and profitability. Competition encourages imitation. We want to motivate other companies to likewise implement sustainable processes.”
Future-oriented Vanilla Farming
The “Vanilla – fair and sustainable” initiative directly supports farmers and communities in the SAVA region in the northeast of Madagascar. It is one of the most important vanilla-producing regions in the world. The initiative aims to improve the living conditions of the people there, to create more, integrative communities and to provide greater opportunities for the farmers’ children. The program is to be rolled out in over 70 villages and to help 50,000 people in about 10,000 households. An estimated 70 percent of the people in these communities live below the poverty line, surviving on instable incomes. To change this, the program provides ongoing support to the farmers by improving their growing methods and economic skills as well as by providing better access to fair financial services in order to secure a more stable income. Community programs in the areas of health, hygiene and child protection serve to improve the lives of the children in the region. The program involves numerous stakeholders and works with other NGOs on the ground. So far, more than 3,000 farmers from 36 villages have taken part in training on sustainable growing methods. Three agricultural schools have been established where 170 young adults have already completed their training. Additionally, 218 teachers from 35 primary schools gained qualifications in environmental topics. The development partnership is being run as part of the develoPPP.de program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development.