Madagascar Vanilla Cooperatives Awarded International Rainforest Alliance Certification

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Achieving the Rainforest Alliance Certification requires compliance with numerous standards
Achieving the Rainforest Alliance Certification requires compliance with numerous standards
Photo: USAID Mikajy

Good Environmental Action Brings Big Financial Gains for Malagasy Farmers

For Immediate Release

Saturday, July 4, 2020

ANTANANARIVO - In celebration of the International Day of Cooperatives, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is pleased to announce that a total of 1,791 vanilla farmers from five cooperatives were awarded the Rainforest Alliance certification.  This achievement was earned through the hard work of the farming cooperatives and with the support of USAID’s Mikajy project.   The Rainforest Alliance provides an internationally recognized and respected certification for food producers that meet demanding sustainability standards.

USAID Mikajy and private sector partners are working directly with farmer cooperatives in north eastern Madagascar to reduce the negative environmental impacts of vanilla production, while simultaneously improving farmers’ incomes and lives.

By being Rainforest Alliance certified, members of these Malagasy farming cooperatives will now receive premium prices for their certified highest-quality vanilla, thereby increasing their incomes.  Through their partnership with USAID, cooperative members also receive training, business management and planning support, and improved access to health services.   

The USAID Mikajy team worked closely with the vanilla cooperatives and local private partners for over a year to prepare for the Rainforest Alliance audit.  Vanilla cooperative members received extensive training on the standards they had to meet and on ways to reduce negative impacts on the surrounding forest. 

Achieving the Rainforest Alliance Certification requires compliance with numerous standards related to four critical areas: biodiversity conservation, improved livelihoods and human well-being, natural resource management, and effective planning and farm management systems.

Checks were also performed to make sure there was no child or forced labor, no use of chemical products, and to ensure all locations had basic sanitary facilities.  USAID Mikajy provided technical support for traceability monitoring, data collection, and accompanied producers during vanilla collection.

To meet social and livelihoods requirements for the Rainforest Alliance certification, USAID Mikajy helped establish village savings and loans associations (VSLAs) for female members or spouses of cooperative members. These women received training on financial management, accounting, and good governance practices.

Despite obtaining the certification, the work is not over. The farmer cooperatives must show continuous improvement every year to stay certified. With its partners, the USAID Mikajy team will continue to work closely with the farmers and cooperatives to ensure further necessary improvements are made.

Under USAID’s Conservation and Community Project (CCP), USAID Mikajy demonstrates the extraordinary value of letting communities lead the way.  Through an integrated approach, CCP improves conservation of a unique biodiversity, promotes sustainable livelihoods, and secures effective local governance and ownership of natural resources.  USAID Mikajy supports local communities in western and northeastern Madagascar to sustainably manage and benefit from their natural resources.