The SPICES Program: Supporting Farmers in Madagascar

What is SPICES?

Madagascar is an island roughly the size of Texas that sits ~250 miles off the coast of East Africa. It is one of the poorest countries in the world and finds itself exceptionally vulnerable to climate change; its landscape experiencing increasing cyclones, unpredictable rains, and chronic drought, particularly in the southern part of the country where more than a million people linger on the brink of starvation.

And yet Madagascar is ripe for strategic investment in the agricultural sector. The world’s most prized vanilla is grown in multiple areas of the country, in addition to venerated bounties of cinnamon, ginger, pepper, cloves, and turmeric.

As such, the SPICES (Securing and Protecting Investments and Capacities for Environmental Sustainability) program is bringing together local communities, national and international NGOs, and governmental agencies for a multisectoral agroforestry program that focuses on engaging and empowering community stakeholders, establishing long-term and responsive programming, initiating inclusive value chain developments, and promoting sustainable land use.

Where in Madagascar We Work

SPICES is currently working in the Diana, Vatovavy, and Fitovianny regions of Madagascar:

In Madagascar, most of the spices (e.g. vanilla, cinnamon, pepper, wild pepper) and cash crops (e.g. coffee, cacao, turmeric, ginger) that provide reliable, year-round income for farmers require shade from multilevel canopies to grow and flourish. Agroforestry is a dynamic, ecologically-based natural resource management system that promotes such growth via the planting of long-term forest trees and shrubs on farmlands alongside more traditional crops.

This land restoration approach, especially when coupled with private sector collaboration, is exponentially more beneficial than conventional monocropping methods because it offers increased economic, sociocultural, and environmental benefits for land users at all levels.

  • ODDIT Toamasina (Organe du Developpement du Diocese de Toamasina)
  • CVB (Centre ValBio)
  • Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development
  • Ministry of Agriculture and Livestock
  • Ministry of Youth and Sports
  • Various private partners

Vanilla - The country's most lucrative crop

Madagascar is the key supplier of an estimated 75–80% of the world’s vanilla due to its unique, highly-regarded flavor profile, making it the most lucrative crop grown in the country.


Coffee - World-renowned for its smooth mouthfeel

Malgasy Robusta Kouillou is particularly balanced, exceptionally harmonious, and renowned for its smooth mouthfeel.


Ginger - Distinguished by its intense flavor

Ginger from Madagascar is famous for its distinctive flavor and scent, which is stronger and more intense than varieties that originate from other countries.


Cinnamon - Malagasy cinnamon is

Madagascar cinnamon attracts global interest because it doesn’t contain a coumarin that is reputed to be toxic to humans and which is prohibited in some European countries.


Turmeric - Precisely cultivated in humid climates

Madagascar cannot compete with India in terms of the amount of turmeric produced so it has opted instead for better quality, being specifically cultivated in the vitalizing humid climates found in the eastern part of the country.


Wild Pepper - Boasts exotic nuances of fruit and wood

The Madagascar Voatsiperifery pepper is exceedingly rare and a prized product of French gastronomy professionals, who appreciate its spiced nuances of fruit and wood.

wild pepper

Cloves — Possesses a spicy aroma and cogent taste

Thanks to its spicy aroma and strong taste, Madagascar ranks second after Indonesia in terms of overall clove production and first in terms of global exportation (as Indonesia mainly uses their cloves for domestic consumption).


Cacao — Criollo, the highest quality cacao bean

The soil along the Sambirano riverbed and its surrounding cacao plantations are highly enriched with minerals and nutrients, producing plenty of Criollo, the highest quality cacao bean available.