Based in São Tomé and Príncipe, West Africa, we follow the vanilla from the plantation to the final beans. After months of exploration of the island, we were able to create a net of small vanilla farmers, from novices to skilled. We spend time for agronomic support, performing semanal surveys to listen to their requests, do a follow-up of the plants, provide insights and ensure a durable relationship. In April- May we harvest the green beans that undergo a 6 months’ transformation process in our fabric, the VANILHA FACTORY.
We believe in fair farming with long term contracts and stable sale prices. We like to share ideas with farmers about local techniques and scientific approaches, mixing everything and aiming for the best quality of plants, yield, work and life. We are collecting as much datas as we can: plant growth, calendar of harvest, time of transformation…. Because very few research has been done on the local variety and still not know vanilla from São Tomé. Constantly learning, testing and connected with international scientists and agronomic platforms, we believe in digital networking to share observations, face diseases, climate change and reach for the best quality.
Who are we?
The co-founders of VANILHA are Francesco MAI & Juliette DOHAR
Francesco is Italian, in his thirties, diplomated in logistics. He first moved to the island in 2011 for a year and since then he thought about the possibility of doing vanilla. When he came back in 2017 he was shocked about the decrease of vanilla plantations due to the end of an agricultural cooperative program. Farmers without buyer decided to cut their plants to cultivate most of the time pepper or cocoa. Francesco, with a friend, then decided to dawn a plantation on their own with the help of a couple of farmers and starting to transform the beans at his house. The second chapter of the story starts meeting Juliette. Juliette, French, 25 years old, was just finishing her master of Geography and Rural Development when she first had a mission in São Tomé. In love with the island, wild nature and adventures she saw in this vanilla story something to dig in.