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"Symrise improves livelihoods of Malagasy vanilla farmers, but might be also creating dependence."

The Impaakt Team

7 min Read Time | June 25th 2021

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Written by: Dane Dan

Company: Symrise

SDG 17: Partnership for the Goals

Feedback from the reviewing team:

"Supporting farmers through its various initiatives, Symrise delivers a positive impact on the businesses and thus the livelihoods of many. Dane Dan does a great job at giving us the facts, as well as highlighting how the issue of dependence might arise."

Read the full article below.

"Symrise improves livelihoods of Malagasy vanilla farmers, but might be also creating dependence."

80% of the world's vanilla is grown in Madagascar1, the 9th poorest country3, where 75%2 out of 28,361,8259 live in poverty. In addition, small-scale vanilla farming is threatened by price fluctuation, creating economic instability for the farmers5,6;p4.

Symrise sources vanilla directly from 7,000 Malagasy farmers in 84 villages1. By working directly with them (see report 20208;p123), Symrise provides them with a long-term guaranteed income5. This brings growth, transparency, traceability, and benefits 34,000 people1.

Symrise established partnerships to achieve sustainable vanilla sourcing in Madagascar. For example, its partnership with Kellogg provided resilience and crop diversification training to 1,000 Malagasy vanilla farmers3,7. Since 2016, Symrise also partners with Save the Children. The partnership provided health insurance to 9,000 households and 38,000 community memebers2. In addition, 40,000 people received essential package training to improve health and nutrition, and 2,400 people got access to education services2

Symrises uses certifications (Fairtrade, Rainforest Alliance, Organic)6;p20 to ensure fair treatment of farmers6;p4. As a result, it was ranked among the top 10 sustainable companies out of 9,6004. The farmers get most benefits by being given rice advances, premiums paid in advance, and crop diversification programs that all benefit the livelihoods of farmers6;p21. Further, these programs prevent early harvesting (which is positive) due to an immediate need for food money6;p21 and ensure quality.

On the other hand, these programs prevent farmers from selling on an open market and render the farmers dependent on the company6;p28

Symrise is improving the livelihoods of the farmers and their families. Thus, the direct impact is mostly positive. However, the farmers' direct purchase might limit their agency and contribute to farmers' dependence on the firm.


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