Vanilla's native Mexico is the only place in the world where the fragrant orchid is pollinated without human help. But pesticides threaten to wipe out the insects that do the job, in turn threatening human livelihoods.
The role of bees in vanilla growing
Project goal: To integrate biodiversity and ecosystem services into planning and decisions made by key public and private sector players in Mexican agribusiness
Vanilla is one of the most expensive ingredients in the world, currently hitting a record €600 per kilo ($300 per pound) on the world market. The orchid is native to Mexico, and only there are insects able to pollinate it. Growers in other parts of the world must pollinate the plants by hand.
Now, pesticides and chemical fertilizers threaten insects in vanilla's native land, and nature's pollinators are increasingly rare. That has severe consequences for ecosystems, and for the farmers who rely on vanilla for a living.