In December of 2017, a market report was released by a European company that has been in the vanilla business for more than 100 years and is known for their honest and reliable industry assessments. The report addressed the complicated conditions on the ground in Madagascar as well as an update on other major vanilla bean producers such as Papua New Guinea, Indonesia, East Africa, Mexico, Polynesia and India. Countries such as Papua New Guinea and Indonesia have increased production considerably and will hopefully continue to do so and to create better quality vanilla beans overall.
Did you know there is a dark side to fair trade vanilla?
According to the World Fair Trade Organization, the definition of Fair Trade is as follows:
“Fair Trade is a trading partnership, based on dialogue, transparency and respect, that seek greater equity in international trade. It contributes to sustainable development by offering better trading conditions to, and securing the rights of, marginalized producers and workers – especially in the South. Fair Trade Organizations, backed by consumers, are engaged actively in supporting producers, awareness raising and in campaigning for changes in the rules and practice of conventional international trade.”
What’s not to like about this? Fairness for farmers, which helps them and their families to thrive as well as to continue to produce the foods, spices and other ingredients that we love and use regularly.
As a serious food enthusiast, along with my dedication to equitable opportunities for farmers, one of my favorite activities is visiting farms. No matter if they flourish in a temperate or tropical climate, I always learn from the farmers as well as from the plants, birds, insects and animals who call the farms their home. I indulged this passion during my recent trip to Costa Rica where I toured farms in the mountainous San Carlos district, a rain forest region in Alajuela province, famous for fine Arabica coffee, sugar cane, pineapples and cattle production. Vanilla is now grown on a few farms in this district, usually in tandem with other crops, including commercial production of trees for use in home building. From there I continued down to a vanilla and spice farm in the lowland Central Pacific coastal region in Quepos district, Puntarenas province.
Changing the World One Woman at a Time
African Women’s Leadership Summits:
Kenya and Uganda 2013
On July 29th, 2013, I leave for East Africa. I’ll be facilitating two African Women’s Leadership Summits, then visiting the farms and projects of many of these women leaders. Also, I will finally meet, in person, hundreds of generous, caring farmers who prayed for my survival during my battle with terminal Cancer!
Our Goal: Establish a Women Leaders Cooperative Throughout East Africa.
Women’s Leadership Summits
In 2005, I was one of twenty women in the inaugural Women Leaders for the World (WLW) training program at Santa Clara University. This program, conceived by the Global Women’s Leadership Network, was designed to further empower women leaders in their work, locally, nationally and internationally.
This report comes from Aust and Hachmann, Canada and is based on the North American Vanilla Bean Importer’s
Association (NAVBIA) report. I am adding to this report the latest information on Mexican beans.
Mexico had a disastrous year in 2011 due to extreme heat and drought, and had 10% of their normal crop. 2012 was far less hot and there was ample rainfall. Unfortunately, the plants were so stressed from the previous year that the crop was again 10% of normal. There will be very few beans coming from Mexico this year. Hopefully there will be enough to produce extracts, but at this time we simply don’t know what to expect. [PR]
As farmers anywhere in the world can testify, as the climate changes, so does the health of their crops. For those of us who are not farmers, we hear a lot about the effects of climate change in the arctic and antarctic but we don’t hear much about what’s happening in the tropical regions of the world. Unfortunately, the temperature has risen about 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) in the last 25 years or so, which is significant for coffee, vanilla and cacao. Here is one man who is doing what he can to bring change to southern Mexico. This article is from the Nature Conservancy. [PR]
Another vanilla crisis? Didn’t we just have one?
Yep, we sure did and the price of a little bottle of vanilla was ridiculously high! So how can this be happening again? Sadly, very easily. Worse, it shouldn’t have to happen!
In the commodity world the operative words are supply and demand. When it comes to anything grown in the tropics, most especially luxury crops like coffee, chocolate, vanilla and sugar, supply and demand are
How do we measure time? Years, decades, significant events, transformative experiences?
I’ve been pondering this over the past few weeks for a couple of reasons. The Vanilla Company launched ten years ago August 21st.
Three weeks later, we collectively paused to acknowledge the impact of 9-11 and the ensuing decade. Ironically, it was while using 9-11 as a measure of this last decade that I was better able to grasp the impact of my own business on my life.
When Gina and I talked over lunch on our company’s anniversary, we reflected on all that transpired during our decade of running the company. Our conclusion? That we have remained in business for a decade is a miracle! A month later, I realize that for me, this has been a decade of miracles.
I wanted to launch a business for a long time. I come from a family of entrepreneurs, risk takers with a strong creative bent, so the idea of launching an Internet business seemed perfectly reasonable even though it was still early in the world of online retail.
Theresia Ndirangu is a single, 42-year-old Kikuyu woman from Kenya with both the focus and determination to succeed at anything she believes in, despite having faced staggering hardships. Her goal is to earn her Masters and PhD degrees in Applied Human Nutrition. Her dream is to receive a masters and Ph.D., then to return to Kenya and work with an international organization in support of tribal women farmers. As up to 80% of the farmers in developing countries, especially in Africa, are women, this is a critically important goal both for Africa and for the world.