International Flavors & Fragrances Inc. and Unilever announced today a new partnership with leading non-governmental organizations to enhance the livelihoods of smallholder vetiver farmers in Haiti. The partnership, Vetiver Together, aims to sustainably improve food security, increase yields, and diversify income, while working to support women’s empowerment and environmental conservation.
Vetiver oil is a common ingredient in many fragrances and an important crop for Unilever, found in brands such as Axe and Impulse. Haiti produces some of the best vetiver in the world, and many farmers rely on cultivation of the root for their entire source of income. But, due to economic pressures, farmers often harvest the roots before they are fully mature, leading to low prices, poor oil yields, deforestation and soil erosion. The partnership will help farmers address these challenges as well as provide training to community members - including in crop and livestock production, soil conservation and nutrition - to help improve social conditions and diversity of farm production and food security.
The project is a strategic social investment that recognizes that improving smallholder and community livelihoods and strengthening the Haitian vetiver supply chain are mutually beneficial. It is supported by the Enhancing Livelihoods Fund – a partnership between Unilever, Oxfam Great Britain, and the Ford Foundation which backs innovative models to improve agricultural practices and have a positive social impact, particularly for women.
“IFF relies on small farming communities for many natural products. These farmers, their families, and communities are an important part of our supply chain,” said Andreas Fibig, Chairman and CEO of IFF. “Sustainability is a key enabler of our Vision2020 business strategy, and this partnership is the embodiment of one of our key sustainability strategies, Sensational People, in which we engage our employees and stakeholders to make a positive difference in the world.”
“Sustainability is integral to how we do business at Unilever – we aim to enhance the social and economic livelihoods of millions of smallholder farmers in our supply chain,” said Dhaval Buch, Chief Procurement Officer of Unilever. “Creating a more resilient supply chain is essential to make real impact on the ground. Partnerships, like Vetiver Together, are instrumental if we are to achieve the level of systematic change that is necessary across industries and supply chains.”
Heifer International will implement the project and provide access to livestock which delivers both an additional food source and diversified income through products that can be bartered and sold at market.
“Livestock is a vehicle to support families and communities, provide highly nutritious foods, empower women, and manage economic risk,” said Pierre Ferrari, CEO of Heifer International. “Coupling livestock with improvements in the quality of the vetiver crop through optimized conservation practices makes Vetiver Together a true example of the good that can happen when multi-stakeholder partnerships are managed and executed with care.”
“The Enhancing Livelihood Fund is particularly interested in supporting Unilever suppliers develop new business models that improve conditions for women, workers and smallholders in an innovative way. We have learnt from previous work, suppliers play a critical role.” said David Bright, Head of Economic Justice of Oxfam GB. “This is why Oxfam together with Unilever and the Ford Foundation set up the Fund to support Unilever suppliers.”