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Purpose-Led Performance May 15, 2024

Partnering with USAID to Drive Impact in Madagascar

vanilla farmers in Madagascar

The Mafatoky Sustainable Vanilla for People and Nature (SVPN) project was co-financed by USAID and McCormick and ran from March 2020 until October 2023. The key objectives were to promote sustainable vanilla production practices and certification, improve the livelihoods of smallholder farmers and protect the environment while engaging with local commercial partners and vanilla producers. Over the span of the SVPN project, approximately 2,800 farmers accessed training. Here are some of their stories.

Edson Randriamahefa 

Edson was 63 years old when the project completed. His parents were vanilla growers and he had been using traditional techniques to grow vanilla since he was very young. The program taught him improved cultivating techniques, and once he applied them, he noticed an improvement in the health of the vines and a nearly 75% increase in yield. Training covered mulching, the loopback technique for vines and improved drainage techniques.

"Thanks to the addition of biomass, the beans are longer and bigger, and the loop system makes the vines more resistant to climate change and disease," he explained. “I am convinced that instead of extending cultivation, it was just necessary to apply semi-intensive cultivation techniques to achieve the production objective.”

Jean Laoul rice field in Madagascar

Jean is a vanilla producer and a father of three children. He attended training on income diversification to help expand his income sources and increase his family’s resilience to unstable vanilla prices. He chose to implement freshwater fish production, digging three ponds and investing in 1,500 fingerlings (juvenile fish). Nine months later, he harvested 300 kg of fish, selling them for over thirteen times his original investment. With this money, Jean Laoul was able to buy rice fields with an area of one hectare.
“Now I have other means of income for my family,” said Jean. “This is the first time in my life that I have my own rice field, so thanks to the Mafatoky project for opening and widening my knowledge.”

Mahafaly is the President of his farmer group and married with five children. He lives in a remote village and never had access to formal financial institutions prior to the Mafatoky initiative.

The project facilitated access to lean season loans for cooperative members by connecting them with OTIV, a local micro-finance institution. Traditionally, informal lenders such as collectors charged very high interest rates, keeping farmers like Mahafaly in a cycle of poverty. 
Obtaining a loan from OTIV enabled Mahafaly to further diversify his income with the purchase of one hectare of land to grow rice. His new field is large enough to grow 150 bags of rice, providing an additional income stream for Mahafaly and his family, and he was able to pay-off his loan within five months. 
The project provided a proven framework for aligning the incentives of farmers/cooperatives, and major global buyers/exporters. USAID is now engaging with the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative (SVI), of which McCormick is a member, to replicate the program across the entire vanilla industry. 

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