CBx International

Why Africa’s New Diamond Trade Is Madagascar’s Vanilla Crop

Nov 24

By CultureBanx Team

  • Madagascar produces about 80% of the world’s vanilla
  • Vanilla producers expect prices to remain high during the 2019-2020 season

Madagascar’s vanilla is a story of danger and reward.  The country’s vanilla cash crop has become more precious than silver and prices are continuing to soar. In its northeast mountain area, Madagascar produces about 80% of the world’s vanilla, one of the most expensive flavors.

Why This Matters: Vanilla is used in everything from ice cream to alcohol and even cosmetics. Madagascar’s vanilla producers expect prices to remain high during the 2019-2020 season. Green vanilla bean prices have reached $56 per kilo, once the vanilla is ready for export its price is eight to ten times higher than for green vanilla, it’s expected to be between $376 and $560 per kilo.

Growing demand out West for vanilla flavoring, not the synthetic stuff, has been a main factor in the price skyrocketing

Growing demand out West for vanilla flavoring, not the synthetic stuff, has been a main factor in the price skyrocketing. The Sava region of Madagascar is in the midst of an economic boom because they have the perfect growing conditions for the lucrative crop.

In 2017, the price of vanilla reached more than $600 a kilo, or about $270 a pound, compared with $50 a kilo in 2013, the New York Times reported. Last year, Madagascar exported 1,600 tons of prepared vanilla, for a total value of over $680 million, more than triple the export value of 2015.

Situational Awareness: Its high price along with extreme poverty and corruption, has put a bull’s eye on the crop for violent criminal networks. In 2017, when the thieves were active, farmers harvested the green vanilla pods early rather than risk having them stolen. This meant immature vanilla came on to the market which reduced the quality of Madagascar vanilla.

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