Global Programs

In Indonesia, cooperatives are helping to connect vanilla farmers to a global market


Sam Filiaci, center, tests vanilla quality at a spice factory in Indonesia. [photo: USAID]
In 1984, the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and NCBA CLUSA established CBI Global, an industry leader that connects coffee and spice farmers to a global supply market of more than 160 companies across 40 countries.

One of those farmers is Agustinus, the leader of a small group of vanilla bean farmers in his village in Papua, an isolated province with Indonesia‚Äôs highest poverty rate. Here, most farmers only grow crops for their families to eat. ‚ÄúI want my village to move beyond subsistence,‚ÄĚ he says.

After Agus harvests his beans, he sells them to a cooperative, where they are dried. Later, at a spice factory, Sam Filiaci, who oversees NCBA CLUSA’s work in Southeast Asia¬†and serves as¬†CBI‚Äôs Senior Vice President for the region, monitors operations to ensure that Agus’ harvest ends up in American grocery stores‚ÄĒas McCormick’s vanilla extract and Costco’s vanilla ice cream.

Filiaci thinks of vanilla and similar high-value crops as the tools that improve quality of life for farming communities. ‚ÄúThey‚Äôre a tool to helping farmers educate their children, build their houses, get health care,” he said.

Learn more in a new video and photo essay from USAID:

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