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Africa: IFF, Unilever, agencies partner for farmers’ welfare

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International Flavors & Fragrances (IFF), Unilever and non-governmental organizations are partnering together to enhance the livelihoods of smallholder vetiver farmers in Haiti.

The partnership, called 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.

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 supported by the Enhancing Livelihoods Fund – a partnership between Unilever, Oxfam Great Britain, and the Ford Foundation that 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,” said Dhaval Buch, Unilever’s chief procurement officer.

“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 that delivers both an additional food source and diversified income through products that can be bartered and sold at market.