Working to Improve the Lives of Vanilla Farmers


Supporting 2,700 farmers to build a resilient vanilla supply chain in Madagascar

women in leadership

Almost one-third of leadership seats in farmers associations are now held by women - an increase from one in eight in 2018

prosperity & financial stability for vanilla farmers

96% of farmers taking part in an independent audit of the project consider that their vanilla income has improved significantly, even taking into account the COVID-19 pandemic

local biodiversity

Communities have reduced the pressure on natural resources, with more than 770 hectares of local biodiversity preserved to date - that’s nearly 2,000 football fields

Vanilla is a vital ingredient in our DOVE® Ice Cream portfolio. The majority of global vanilla supply comes from Madagascar, one of the poorest countries in the world, with 81% of rural families living in poverty (World Bank, December 2020).

In 2017, DOVE® Ice Cream’s parent company, Mars, Incorporated partnered with Danone, Firmenich and Veolia to launch the Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (L3F), an impact investment fund which aims to empower smallholder farmers with sustainable agricultural practices, improved yield and income.

In partnership with L3F, Mars has led an ambitious investment in a large-scale vanilla project in northeast Madagascar to tackle some of the key challenges deeply rooted in the vanilla sector.

In 2018, at the outset of this ten-year project, the vanilla sector was disorganized with high levels of market volatility. Farmers lacked cash flow needed to invest in their farms, challenging their ability to produce high quality vanilla and maximize returns. Young adults and women had few opportunities, limiting their potential to thrive.

Together with our partners in the project, our ambition is to help improve the lives of vanilla farmers by connecting women to expanded opportunities, increasing farmers’ prosperity and financial stability, and preserving local biodiversity.

A new farmer-owned cooperative aims to connect the farmers more directly to markets and to expand opportunities for women and young adults. The cooperative collects the vanilla, cures it and exports it to the L3F project partners. As a result of the project, 100% of the value of the cured vanilla now goes back to the farmers and the community.

Vanilla production through an organized value chain offers the farmers long-term economic prospects that can improve their quality of life. To date, the project has connected over 2,700 farmers with skills training, farm materials and inputs. As a result, yields have risen by an average of 50%, production capacity has increased, and the vanilla crop is better quality.

Enabling women to thrive

Enabling women to thrive

As highlighted on our DOVE® Ice Cream packaging, this program aims to support women farmers. In fact, almost half of the farmers in the program are women. Through efforts that help women diversify their incomes, women have been able to bring their entrepreneurial endeavors to life and give them more opportunities to earn additional income. Women who have participated in the program’s innovative market garden training program have also reported increased abilities to provide nutritious meals to their families - an often unappreciated contribution to family wellbeing. In total, more than 200 women have participated in these programs.

Beyond improved income and nutrition, the program aims to make decision-making more gender-equal within farmer associations. Women now hold more than one in three leadership seats, and 75% of respondents in independent research in the region believe women’s involvement has improved significantly since the beginning of the program.

As Mars board member Victoria Mars commented when visiting the project in 2018, “The uplift in the community when you empower women makes a big difference. Besides making the women feel good about themselves and having a voice, we also know that that’s a faster way to raise the whole level of community.”

9 in ten farmers in the independent survey consider the vanilla supply chain has improved significantly with more transparency, higher quality vanilla produced, and farmers earning a better income


Meet Lydia

Meet Lydia

“Women are deeply involved in the project and they are given new responsibilities. They can now contribute to the financial security of their families.” Lydia Soa, President of a Women Association in Madagascar

Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (L3F)

Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming (L3F)

DOVE® Ice Cream’s parent company Mars, Incorporated launched The Livelihoods Fund for Family Farming in 2015 alongside Danone, later joined by Firmenich and Veolia. Based on the belief that environmental degradation, climate change, and rural poverty are interlinked, the Fund provides a new approach to transform companies’ agricultural supply chains while improving the lives of vulnerable smallholder farmers, in order to address all of these issues.