Madagascan vanilla

Madagascan vanilla © Bigstock

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Vanilla is one of the world’s best-loved flavours. We use it in everything from ice cream and sponge cakes to candles and skin cream. Madagascar is among the world's principal suppliers of this exotic spice. It is grown on the fertile northeast coast of the island but the life for the vanilla farmers in Madagascar is tough. Let’s learn why.

The vanilla orchid is a plant that is not native to Madagascar and was not introduced to the island until the 16th century. The plant originates from Mexico. A Spanish conquistador called Hernán Cortés brought vanilla and chocolate to Europe in the 1520s. Because the journey to Mexico was long and hazardous, Europeans were keen to cultivate both plants nearer to home.

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