Callebaut, Prova team on vanilla

27 Sep 2016

Barry Callebaut and vanilla extracts and flavours manufacturer Prova are joining forces to launch what they describe as a novel project in Madagascar to diversify and stabilise revenues of vanilla farmers through the introduction of cocoa farming.

Callebaut, Prova team on vanilla

Barry Callebaut and vanilla extracts and flavours manufacturer Prova are joining forces to launch what they describe as a novel project in Madagascar. The aim is to diversify and stabilise revenues of vanilla farmers through the introduction of cocoa farming. With additional services, the project will also increase levels of vanilla curing at the farm level and support the adoption of Good Agricultural Practices (GAP). The joint project activities are expected to improve the livelihoods of the vanilla farmers located in the district of Bemanevika. In return, the activities are playing an important role in Barry Callebaut’s and Prova’s efforts to extend the sourcing of sustainable vanilla and cocoa.

To accomplish this, 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 programs.

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.

“The cocoa and vanilla synergy is an ancient love-story that dates back to the Aztecs, thousands of years ago,” said Alessandra Ognibene-Lerouvillois, Chief Sustainability Officer at Prova. “Witnessing this marriage in the field, helping farmers to improve their livelihoods is a big achievement. We are excited to embark on this journey with Barry Callebaut. Together, we will initiate the cultivation of cocoa! 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.”

“We are very happy to partner with Prova on this exceptional project,” said Oliver von Hagen, Sustainability Manager Global Sourcing at Barry Callebaut. “Vanilla is a key ingredient for us when making chocolate. This project will support farmers in being prepared for a less favourable future vanilla market. It also helps us as a company, securing a significant amount of our vanilla needs from a sustainable source. We are also very pleased that IDH fully supports our intentions and work on the ground. Altogether, this will complement and strengthen the efforts of the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative where we also are an active member.”

“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," said Jan Gilhuis, Senior Program Manager at IDH.

With about 80,000 vanilla producers, Madagascar is by far the most important producer of vanilla globally. Although vanilla is referred to as the world’s most popular taste and second most expensive spice in the world, it is also one of the most labour-intensive crops. The vast majority of farmers are smallholders situated in the SAVA region.