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Vanilla importers must know how their vanilla is produced

Expert criticizes Danish vanilla importers who buy vanilla from Madagascar and resell it to supermarkets without knowing whether it is stolen or produced by children. That is not in line with UN guidelines, he says.

It is far from enough that Danish vanilla importers do not know where their vanilla comes from and thus how it is produced. According to Andreas Rasche, Professor of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) at Copenhagen Business School (CBS).

Vanilla farmers live in deep poverty and the stolen vanilla lands on shelves in, among other things, Danish supermarkets. This is not just a Danish problem, as BBC has recently reported the same critical conditions in 2016. Vanilla farmers live in deep poverty and the stolen vanilla lands on shelves in  Danish supermarkets.

“It is the importers who are in power in deciding who in Madagascar they want to buy vanilla from. That’s why they can say no, for example, to child labor, “states Andreas Rasche.

According to the The UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, companies have an obligation to know exactly where their products originate from. For vanilla, it’s all down the supply chain to every vanilla farmer, says Andreas Rasche:

“It is the only option to solve the problems in the industry. Some importers claim that it is expensive and comprehensive – but that’s the only way out. This is also what we can and should expect from the importers. ”

In the vanilla-producing Sava region in the northern part of the island nation of Madagascar, about three out of four vanilla farmers live on less than a dollar a day.

Despite the fact that 80 percent of the vanilla, yes 80 percent(!), on the global market originates from Madagascar “… in most years, farmers are living near or below the poverty level,” says Severine Deboos-David from the UN’s International Labour Organization.

One farmer, Meny from the small village of Masovarika states: “It’s a tough job … you are eaten by mosquitoes; you have to work every day. Then you have to face thieves who are stealing your hard work”.

He and others describe how collectors – middlemen drive out to the remote villages buying vanilla and selling it to exporters – mix stolen and legitimate vanilla, making it impossible to differentiate between legitimate and stolen.

So when you buy your precious vanilla, the story behind how it came into your hands, has track record of farmers struggling to survive, getting robbed of their livelihood, no action from the Malagasy authorities, corrupt middlemen and general lack of transparency and traceability along the supply chain of vanilla.

 

References:

Original article – https://danwatch.dk/i-strid-med-fn-danske-vanilje-importoerer-skal-vide-hvordan-deres-vanilje-er-produceret/

https://www.aljazeera.com/indepth/features/2017/01/bitter-taste-madagascar-vanilla-170131073036652.html

 

 

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