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Bowdoin College

Publication Date

Spring 2018

Program Name

Madagascar: Biodiversity and Natural Resource Management


Vanilla is an orchid whose beans are harvested after ten months on the vine. About eighty percent of the world’s vanilla is produced in Madagascar and the SAVA region is the capital of vanilla production within the country. The changing demand of vanilla, damage from cyclones, and the three-year development of the vanilla plants before they begin producing beans causes a boom and bust cycle of prices of vanilla. Some organizations have tried to ameliorate the problems these cycles and low prices pose to vanilla farmers by creating certifications for companies that promise that they will not pay less than a certain price for vanilla. This is particularly relevant when vanilla prices are low. Other certifications are aimed towards ensuring environmental safety and fair treatment towards farmers. Examples include Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, and Organic. The effectiveness of these organizations and programs can be measured against efforts by individual companies to treat their providers ‘fairly.’ This study examines the effect of these certifications, company initiatives, and third-party interests in the production of vanilla and the efficacy of these parties in fostering the fair and sustainable production of vanilla.


African Studies | Agricultural and Resource Economics | Agricultural Economics | Agricultural Science | Environmental Studies | Food Science | Food Studies | Natural Resource Economics


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