Madagascar’s £152m vanilla industry soured by child labour and poverty 

Roughly 80% of the vanilla sold on the global market comes from Madagascar. Madagascan vanilla is used in chocolate, cakes and ice-cream sold to consumers around the globe by some of the world’s biggest brands.

Vanilla is the second most expensive spice in the world. Prices fluctuate, but industry reports show the commodity is currently selling at between $200 (£160) and $400 a kilo. Xidollien’s mother, Liliane, gets just £6 a kilo for the family’s vanilla pods from the “collectors”, young men on motorbikes who come to the village to buy the pods after each harvest. She has no idea where her crop ends up. “I sell to a collector. When it goes, it’s gone,” she says with a shrug.

Jean says that if farmers have a bad harvest or have their plants stolen, they can be forced to sell land, animals and possessions in an attempt to pay off this debt. He explains that a loan of £1 in March could have escalated to £10 by harvest time in July.

The Danwatch report claims that the plight of Madagascan farmers has been largely ignored by exporters and retailers profiting from the $192m (£152m) trade in Madagascan vanilla.

Source: Madagascar’s £152m vanilla industry soured by child labour and poverty | Global development | The Guardian