Of course the unreliability of the police has led some growers to take the law into their own hands:
Not only does Mr. Oclin patrol his plot of about 3,000 vanilla vines, he pays three men to stand guard every night during the four months before the summer harvest.Like all such gangs, these vanilla vigilantes will eventually suffer from corruption and uncontrolled violence; just wait.
The men are armed with double-pronged fishing spears and clubs, plus Mr. Oclin’s rifle. Each night, a vigilante group patrolling local plantations stops by with a half-dozen men armed with clubs and machetes.
“Every vanilla plot will be guarded,” Mr. Oclin said.
With little public trust in a corrupt police force and justice system, mob justice often prevails when a suspected thief is caught.
In April, a local militia captured a thief with a little over three pounds of freshly picked vanilla. He was beaten with sticks until he collapsed, then hacked to death with machetes, according to residents. It was just one of dozens of similar “vanilla murders” over the past two seasons.
And in another all-too-predictable outcome, the sudden influx of wealth has ended hunger in this region but created new social problems instead:
Mr. Lomone said he was concerned about the boom’s effect on local culture, with people doing whatever they can to get rich quick.
“Now in Madagascar, it’s not a problem of poverty to eat, but of social poverty,” he said. “It’s about the competition to keep up with others making fast money. It’s not good. We can’t keep going like this.”