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Sustainable Partnerships with Virginia Dare Madagascar

Since 2017, Virginia Dare Madagascar (VDM) has engaged local cooperatives of smallholder farmers in the SAVA Region to create a sustainable, reliable, premium, and independent market that empowers producers who call Madagascar home. 

Together with our own agronomists, field agents, and conservation experts from the Duke Lemur Centre (DLC), Virginia Dare helps to ensure a prosperous and stable future for the vanilla market in the SAVA Region. Virginia Dare Madagascar also collaborates with the Regional University (CURSA) to recruit talent and offer excellent job opportunities in the professional vanilla industry. 

Flow Chart: 1) Farmers 2) Cooperatives 3) Villages 4) DLC-SAVA 5) CURSA 6) Virginia Dare

Ecosystem of Sustainability

Planting the Seeds of Resiliency

First, We Work with Farmers to Grow the Best Vanilla.

To understand how to be a partner, we must have a deep understanding of the entire process, from planting to manufacturing. As one of the few exporters who also holds a curing license, we have a clearer understanding of how to work with farmers to develop the premium vanilla that creates a sought-after product for the world.

Our Role

  • Learn and reinforce traditional curing methods to preserve vanilla’s beloved flavor profile and its added value so farmers can fetch a higher price than for uncured (green) vanilla.
  • Assist cooperatives in attaining the lengthy Fairtrade and organic certifications – a rare dual certification that can take years to complete but increases the value of, and guarantees a minimum price for, vanilla sold.
  • Supervise and train in preventing chemical contamination that allows the organic certification to remain intact.

Resiliency in Bloom

When the vanilla market sees a dip, these farmers remain competitive and sought after.

Label Impact


of consumers trust the Fairtrade label


associate the Fairtrade label with premium, high-quality brands


have claimed purchase of Fairtrade Certified™ products

Source: Fairtrade International®

Then, We Work to Secure Farmer Independence.

We apply a comprehensive landscape approach that better ensures sustainable land use and helps farmers mitigate and adapt to climate change. We also leverage Fairtrade Certification, which requires farmers to create cooperatives that are formally registered and pursue their own development plans. These plans include topics like income improvement, member-controlled structures, and business skills development.

Our Role

  • Guide villages and farmers through cooperative formation, including registration and administration.
  • Offer non-exclusive contracts that allow the farmer cooperatives to work with anyone, ensuring a robust customer pool.

Resiliency in Bloom

Free and fair trade puts the power in the hands of the farmers and their cooperatives to make decisions for themselves and keep the system in their favor.

Scenic countryside with fields
Looking out over a valley of tea fields in Sri Lanka.
field with trees
Organic Coffee plantation in peru. coffee field with trees

Next, We Use an Agroforestry Approach to Protect the Environment.

Sustainability at its heart means a model that can continue endlessly, one that protects both land and people. A smart, diverse approach to crops, other plant life, and communities that secures our future.

Our Role

  • Promote distinct agroforestry innovations that improve vanilla yield and quality and help smallholder farmers to diversify both the foods they consume and monetize.
  • Collaborate with conservation experts from DLC to pursue regenerative agriculture and intelligently integrate farmer-led reforestation efforts.

Resiliency in Bloom

Crop and income diversification reduces farmer dependence on vanilla. It also preserves the multi-functionality of agriculture, upholding vital ecosystem services – including pollination, pest control, and soil health.

Finally, We Empower Through Financial Inclusion.

By nature, the vanilla development process results in farmers generating their income only once or twice a year. That income must then stretch the entire year, which often results in a lack of funds near the end – bringing instability and difficulty that can be avoided.

Our Role

  • Share household financial management concepts to help families with a year-long budgeting plan for expected expenses such as food and schooling.
  • Develop Village Loan Saving Associations (VSLAs) that act as banking systems within the farm towns, to encourage savings and long-term financial plans, and provide emergency loan support.
  • Further diversify and bolster household incomes through VSLAs to encourage entrepreneurial endeavors in growing communities, particularly among women.
  • Teach risk assessment skills when taking a loan, helping participants prioritize activities that have a high likelihood of financial success.

Resiliency in Bloom

Financial education, support, and creativity help families move beyond surviving and into thriving, reducing stress, and improving quality of life.

It Pays to Care


of customers want companies to have ethical values


decide what to buy based on company transparency


choose, switch, avoid, or boycott a brand based on its stance on societal issues


rank “local relations” as the most important


of millennials are willing to pay more for products that improve society and the environment

Source: Fairtrade International®

farmer holding freshly harvested vanilla bean pods
vanilla bean pods

Now, do it all over again.

Investing in Tomorrow’s Leaders

Life is a regenerative ecosystem – all of it. We must always look to our next generation of scientists, growers, conservationists, and lovers of biology who can adapt to, and help further perfect, the ecosystem.

Set a New Course

Through our collaboration with DLC, we recruit Bachelor of Science graduates from Centre Universitaire de la Region SAVA in Antalaha (CURSA) as paid apprentices with VDM. Some apprentices become part of our Rural Development program with clients who wish to support Agroforestry or Vanilla Farmer Livelihood projects. This gives young graduates a first job experience in an international private business.

Enter Internships

We prepare young farmers for fulfilling careers within the vanilla industry through internships at VDM. They work with us to learn biology, biodiversity, regeneration, business, and more. So no matter where they go, they can carry with them the techniques and values of agrofarming and ecosystem protection.

Consistent. Reliable. Premium.
Full-Service Flavor.

Our taste expertise expands the entire application development process, from ideation to creation. Partner with Virginia Dare for support through flavor concept ideation, testing and development, navigating regulatory matters, and staying up to date on the latest in taste. All honed over the course of 100 years.


person writing on whiteboard with sticky notes

Product Development

ice cream bars


man working in factory

Industry Expertise

person holding juice bottles