As you may know, the ecosystems of Madagascar face many challenges at the moment. At first glance, it may therefore seem counter-intuitive to grow a crop that is only used for flavourings and fragrances so, to the right, we will explain why we have chosen this particular crop as a flagship for our project.
Vanilla doesn't just fit into our plans for using aquaponic farms, it thrives in these conditions. That means that we can grow this crop even quicker than expected and hopefully increase production of this most important plant.
Vanilla a highly valuable cash crop, with its retail price often rising above that of pure silver. By learning how to grow this in a better way we can try to divert some of that wealth into the hands of on-the-ground organisations who need it to preserve Madagascar's ecosystems.
Since vanilla can be grown aquaponically, it means we can grow it anywhere. Ultimately this means that vanilla crops no longer need to directly compete with food production in Madagascar.
90% of the world's vanilla is still grown in Madagascar. It is a plant that requires very specific knowledge to cultivate and then prepare. This means we have improved a plant that will require Madagascans to be involved, and thus benefit from, our work.
Vanilla plants usually take three years to mature and produce pods. Our method may be able to vastly improve that, which should deliver the rapid results we need to fight against the challenges faced by Madagascar's wildlife.
Vanilla is typically grown in a haphazard way that allows for unsanitary conditions, low standards of quality and domination by organised crime. By streamlining production we can allow groups to directly produce and sell a high quality product straight to consumers, improving this process for everybody.