When you think of desert countries, you might think of Arabia or nations in the Sahara.
But when you think of dessert countries, you might think of Madagascar, as among the major crops of this island nation are cacao, sugar, and vanilla.
Vanilla is a member of the orchid family. Like cacao, vanilla came originally from South America. At first, it was used only as a sweetener fir chocolate products. Vanilla later set out on its own as a flavoring, but it was found that the vanilla plant wouldn’t grow anywhere but in Mexico.
Then in 1836, a scientist found that for pollination, the vanilla plant depended on a certain kind of bee that was found only in Mexico. He invented an artificial way of pollinating the plant, so that it could be grown in any warm nation.
Today, Madagascar and a number of other Indian Ocean islands account for about three-quarters of the world’s vanilla.