Vanilla and climate change

Climate change is a major issue for the future of our planet. Proof of this is its prominent place in the news of late 2015, with the COP21 held in Paris. The aim of the conference was to find common ground between all countries to minimize the impact of Human on the degradation of the environment.

Four key points summarize the consequences of climate change:
– Temperatures increase
– Elevation of the oceans
– Increased rainfall
– Ocean acidification

All have a direct impact or not on the agricultural world and the market price of raw materials. What consequences for vanilla?


Consequences for vanilla

We noticed in recent years that vanilla production has badly evolved. This production decrease is related to the practice of too low prices from 2004 to 2012 but also to climate change.
Vanilla from French Polynesia, commonly known as Tahitian vanilla, sees for 3 years its production drop: 30% in 2013, 40% in 2014 and 50% in 2015. This is due firstly to the regeneration of plants which takes place every 7 years, but also due to the excess rainfall during the austral summer from November to March (time to harvest ripe fruit, but fruits were damaged) and conversely a lack of freshness during the austral summer from April in October (time of fertilization of flowers, the lack of freshness slowed the onset of flower buds).


A severe drought in the northern part of Veracruz State, thwarted the improvement of production volume. The harvest 2015 is estimated around 10 exportable tons.
Mexican vanilla producers are very discouraged by the climate change that deprives them of a good harvest and pushes them to invest their efforts in other products.


The situation in Madagascar is particularly worrying, since this country provides more than 80% of the global volume. 2015 harvest was almost halved, too small to meet the entire world demand.
Besides hurricanes, by which Madagascar is often affected, they are too abundant and unusually long rains which disadvantaged sufficient flowering for the 2015 harvest. Rains were important until mid-October 2014. With rich soil and good rains, the vines have therefore favored their biomass. Stress fault (activator of the instinct of survival of the species and flowering), lianas have not felt the need to produce flower buds. This lack of flowering induced a poor harvest 2015 (sold in 2016) of approximately 1 300 tons of exportable vanilla.

Do not forget a flower = a pod.

According some observers, Madagascar would rank in the top countries that will be most heavily impacted by long-term climate change. This is explained because of unsustainable practices on site: deforestation for rice cultivation and sale of wood (rosewood trafficking), use of fuel by the central…


What are the consequences of the vanilla production decrease?

– High increase of prices: due to sharply reduced production, especially in Tahiti and Madagascar, compared to a strong demand.
– Quality declines in Madagascar: the main producer of vanilla, known for its ancestral know-how, loses its reputation. Indeed producers no longer provide the care and time required to prepare the vanilla. It is quite recurrent into the world for raw materials that when supply is weaker than demand, prices rise more and more and the quality drops. “Why making an effort since everything will be sold? “. In addition, Madagascar is in a quasi-monopolistic position with over 80% of world production, customers have currently no alternative supply.

The quality decline, coupled with a drop in production due to climatic variations and excessive prices rises will result if no action is taken, to the increased insecurity for tens of thousands of families farmers, especially in Madagascar who now live primarily in the cultivation of vanilla.
It is therefore everyone’s responsibility to act now.