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Unilever, its supplier Symrise and the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit GmbH have formed a partnership to improve the livelihoods of 4,000 vanilla farmers in the Sava region, Madagascar.
The development partnership includes a comprehensive three-year program that will impact 32 communities and involve 44 schools and colleges. The program is partly financed within the framework of the develoPPP.de program of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ). Madagascar produces 79% of the world’s natural vanilla supply.
The partnership aims to secure this vanilla supply for Unilever in the future and to support the farming communities with improved access to secondary education and training in agricultural best practices. Consequently, the group said it will enhance the farmers’ economic independence. The integrated education program will also support environmental education in primary schools through training teachers and providing teaching kits; and aims to establish a learning platform of rural agricultural colleges for vocational training of adolescents.
Symrise and Unilever have been working with smallholder farmers in the Sava region for a number of years already, and this partnership will accelerate plans on the ground. GIZ, in this program working on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), is a German federal enterprise in the field of international cooperation for sustainable development which operates in more than 130 countries worldwide. It will play a crucial role in defining how the program is developed and monitored.
“In our Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, we have set clear and ambitious targets for engaging with smallholder farmers, and this is a wonderful example of how we can help them improve their agricultural practices, to enable them to become more competitive," said Dhaval Buch, chief procurement officer at Unilever.
"The fact that this program has a focus on agricultural entrepreneurs and prioritizes women for training makes it even more valuable. For us, this is a key example of how a partnership can work to increase the positive social impact in our supply chain,” Buch said.
Heinz-Jürgen Bertram, Symrise AG's CEO, explained: “We are very excited about the comprehensive development program we have now set up together with our partners Unilever and GIZ. Sharing Values is at the heart of our corporate strategy. This renewed commitment is an opportunity to create value for all.”