US co-ops work with development agency to help Madagascar’s farmers

NCBA CLUSA is working with spice company McCormick to improve livelihoods and sustainability in the country's vanilla production

A new project funded by the US Agency for International Development (USAID) to improve the livelihoods of 3,000 vanilla farmers will expand the overseas role of the American co-op sector.

National co-op body NCBA CLUSA has been working with US spice firm McCormick & Company to improve sustainability and livelihoods in its Madagascar operations. The two organisations have a similar partnership in Indonesia.

The new project, Sustainable Vanilla for People and Nature (SVPN), is a three-year, US$3m activity co-financed by USAID and McCormick, which forms part of USAID’s Conservation and Communities Project (CCP). SVPN activity is designed to conserve biodiversity, prevent deforestation and improve farmers’ livelihoods through sustainable vanilla production in the Sava and Analanjirofo regions of Madagascar.

It also aligns with McCormick’s Purpose-Led Performance initiatives, through which the company has committed to sustainably sourcing 100% of its five branded spices and herbs, including vanilla, and to increasing the resilience of 90% of the farmers who grow their raw material by 2025.

Madagascar – an island nation off the southern coast of Africa – is increasingly vulnerable to climate change and extreme natural events, and 85% of its people derive their livelihoods from climate-sensitive agriculture.

In a blogpost on its website, NCBA CLUSA also notes that the country’s high level of biodiversity means that the loss of one hectare of forest in Madagascar has a greater negative impact on global biodiversity than one lost elsewhere – and the environment is under pressure from logging and poor agricultural practices.

It is hoped the public-private partnership between USAID, McCormick and NCBA CLUSA will help to reverse this destructive trend, by increasing the production of high-quality, certified vanilla; improving the resilience of farmers and their families; strengthening co-operative businesses; and helping farmers to reduce their climate emissions.

NCBA CLUSA has been partnered with McCormick in Madagascar for several decades, and expanded this work in 2016 to promote a sustainable vanilla supply chain and improve farmers’ livelihoods through Farmer-to-Farmer and East Africa Trade and Investment Hub projects, and in collaboration with a local export partner.

The work has largely focused on strengthening the organisational capacity of co-operative businesses and helping farmers achieve sustainable certification.

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