Vanilla fever: Fear sours the sweet scent of Madagascar’s success
By Ingrid Gercama, The Netherlands and Nathalie Bertrams, Belgium
Vanilla, the world’s most popular flavor, has become more expensive than silver, making it big business in Northern Madagascar. The vanilla trade however flourishes at the cost of the island’s last remaining rainforests and has been described as “worse than cocaine.” Ingrid and Nathalie’s article explores how the “vanilla fever” fuels a spiral of crime, money laundering, speculation and corruption. They used Hostwriter to connect with fellow journalists for advice about the situation in Madagascar. Through the journalists’ recommendations, Ingrid and Nathalie met local colleagues who alerted them to the deeper, hidden layers of the vanilla story – the environmental crime that feeds the vanilla price speculation.