Madagascar to Expand its Vanilla Growing Regions
Vanilla is flavouring derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla and is the second most expensive spice after saffron because growing the vanilla seedpods is rather labour intensive!
Around 80% of the worlds exquisite spice comes from Madagascar, and the part that produces the most currently comes from the island’s north-eastern region of Sava. With lush green valleys and areas with rugged highlands, Sava has been at the heart of vanilla cultivation for over a 100 years and it has enabled the economic growth of the region as well as establishing local farmers with a high level of expertise.
The vanilla market has changed quite significantly in recent years. Adverse weather has produced poor harvests and when combined with a swell in consumer demand for natural ingredients, prices have been sent soaring. This has prompted the highly skilled Madagascan farmers to explore new opportunities and to find growing regions that can handle vanilla production throughout the country.
Vanilla farming is complex and time-consuming. The orchid flowers need to be pollinated by hand and from planting to harvest will take a minimum of three years. So, expanding the sourcing will bring many benefits not only to the island but to the manufacturers too.
“Over the past decade, there has been a lot of change and volatility in the vanilla market,” explains Eric an agronomist from Givaudan which is based in Madagascar. “As the market has changed and evolved, we have seen more and more interest in growing vanilla in areas well outside Sava. It will take some time, but this holds great promise for Madagascar’s vanilla crop, as it could increase the total volume, bring some stability to the market, and ensure continued high quality .”
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