Symrise, Unilever and GIZ join forces with Save the Children

to support vanilla farming communities in Madagascar

Vanilla supplier Symrise, Unilever, and Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH have joined forces with Save the Children to help improve the livelihoods of vanilla farming communities in the Sava region, Madagascar.

The development partnership is partly financed through the develoPPP.de programme of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

The 3-year initiative will aim to address some of the complex social and economic issues that trap people working in the vanilla supply chain and their families in a cycle of poverty from generation to generation. It will provide direct support to farmers, as well as the wider community, to improve their livelihoods, build more inclusive communities and provide better opportunities for their children.

The programme plans to reach 50,000 people in 10,000 households, across 70 villages. An estimated 70% of people in these communities live below the poverty line and have very unstable incomes.

Working with local NGOs partners, the programme will deliver

  • continued support for farmers to improve their farming practices and business skills
  • improved access to fair financial services to ensure households have more stable incomes to meet their basic needs, as well as a safety net to fall back on
  • community education on health, hygiene and child protection practices, to help improve the lives of children.

Symrise, Unilever and GIZ have been working together since 2013 to support vanilla farmers, and have trained nearly 3000 farmers to increase their productivity and diversity of crops.

Save the Children will help increase the scale and impact of the programme by engaging more people in these communities, notably young people and children, and the most vulnerable households. They bring global expertise in addressing the underlying causes of poverty and ensuring that children have the best possible chance of fulfilling their potential.

As part of the programme, the partners will also carry out research to understand how the vanilla industry affects children’s lives. The findings will be used to engage with the wider vanilla industry to support improved market practices.

It will also help Unilever secure a more sustainable and reliable supply of natural vanilla, and contributes to its Sustainable Living Plan commitment to have a positive impact on the lives of 5.5 million people, including smallholder farmers, by 2020. A number of UN Sustainable Development Goals will be supported through this work, notably Goal 17, which encourages global partnerships for sustainable development.

Heinrich Schaper, President Flavours Division, Symrise AG, said: ”Working together for positive impact fully describes Symrise’s long-term commitment to vanilla in Madagascar. Our 200+ local Symrise employees engage directly with more than 7000 Malagasy smallholder farmers. Together with Unilever and GIZ, we have worked to create lasting impact on economic livelihoods, education and the environment, directly benefiting farmers and their families."

“We warmly welcome the inclusion of Save the Children to our proven partnership. The added skills, experience and expertise will empower the programme to achieve even more. As Symrise we are making 2017 the Year of SDG#17 “Partnership for the Goals” and we are genuinely inspired by all our vanilla programme partners.”

Dhaval Buch, Chief Procurement Officer, Unilever, said: “We are delighted to see this programme continue and to now have Save the Children on board. We have seen some strong results in the last 3 years of the programme, but there is more to be done. Strategic partnerships are critical to helping us meet our goal of positively impacting the lives of 5.5 million people, including smallholder farmers, by 2020. Working together, and using the strength and expertise of each partner, is essential if we are to achieve the level of transformative change that is necessary across the industry. We look forward to developing the programme further and extending its reach to the wider community and children.”

Jo Grace, Head of Hunger Reduction and Livelihoods at Save the Children, added: “Save the Children is delighted to be entering into partnership with Unilever, GIZ and Symrise. This is a unique opportunity for us to collaborate with both private and institutional partners to deliver a high impact programme which will work to break the transfer of poverty from parents to children in vanilla-producing communities in the Sava region of Madagascar."

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