Sustainable Vanilla Farming

Mexican Vanilla

Vanilla is a vital ingredient that is widely used in many industries, including food, cosmetics and perfume. 80% of world vanilla production is concentrated in Madagascar, but did you know that Mexico is the country of origin of vanilla? Cocoa and vanilla are Mexican achievements that have enriched the world's cuisines for centuries. The Aztecs treated cocoa beans as currency and for centuries the finest gourmet vanilla has been grown here and produced through elaborate and traditional procedures. Here, in the heart of Mexico, the story of a very special pleasure begins.

Mexico, the cradle of vanilla cultivation

Vanilla is native to Mexico and is also known by the Nahuatl names ixtlilxochitl or tlilxóchitl (black flower), Totonaco xanath and cacixanatl by the Aztecs who already used it to soften the bitter taste of chocolate. The Totonacas, inhabitants of the coasts of the Gulf of Mexico, were the first to learn about the cultivation of vanilla. The Totonacs maintained a monopoly on vanilla cultivation until the 19th century, because all European efforts to cultivate vanilla failed in places other than their country of origin.

Thanks to the Frenchman Louis XIV, the Sun King, an enthusiast of this exotic spice, vanilla conquered the traditional kitchens of Europe. But all initial attempts to grow vanilla outside of Mexico were doomed to failure. For a long time, only Mexican bees were able to pollinate vanilla flowers. In 1837 the Belgian botanist Charles Morren discovered that the vanilla flower is pollinated by the stingless bee Melipona, which is only found in Mexico, ignoring natural pollination in other countries. But it was not until 12-year-old slave Edmond Albius (1829 - 1880) on Bourbon Island invented manual pollination of orchid flowers, that vanilla has been cultivated in many other tropical areas of the world.

The sustainable cultivation of vanilla in Mexico

Vanilla-Trade's goal is to develop a sustainable, traceable, and high quality supply chain that respects the integrity of natural ecosystems and helps to improve the living conditions of the vanilla growing communities established throughout Mexico. We encourage the organization of cooperatives, organic farming, conservation of tropical forests, as well as, fair prices and community development. This direct-trade model allows us to pay farmers a premium price for exceptional vanilla beans, and still provide competitive prices for our customers.

In accordance with its vision and its mission and to achieve its sustainable development objectives, Vanilla-Trade commits to several points in relation to its partners, its employees and its customers.

Develop sustainable vanilla production in an agroforestry environment as a primary or secondary cash crop, to ensure a stable income for producers in order to improve their productivity and income.

Organize and structure producer associations (organization, provision of technical knowledge, plants and tools, training, quality through good practices, organic agriculture).

Ensure producers a fair price for their products by offering a base price and a participation in the final sales price.

Trazabilidad mediante la instalación de un sistema que permita la trazabilidad de la vainilla desde la zona de cultivo hasta el destino final.

Reserving a percentage of its turnover for sustainable conservation actions in protected areas.

Promote interaction between producers, distributors, consumers and those interested in environmental protection.

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