Vanilla is one of the high value crops mainly grown in the Central, Eastern and Western regions of Uganda. The spice is a sustainable and profitable crop used to add flavor to food, beverages, cosmetics and pharmaceutical products.
Prices reached as high as Uganda Shillings 250,000= in July 2018 for green vanilla beans at the farm-gate. Although currently, vanilla prices are low due to the international market challenges.
Speaking to the media Hon. Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempija the Minister for Agriculture, Animal Industry And Fisheries said, vanilla is selling at a much higher price than any other commercial crop grown in Uganda and that prices are expected to rise again in 2021. The crop has proved to be sustainable and profitable for farmers in Uganda with the potential to deliver the participating farmers and actors into the medium income status cherished by the Government.
Uganda’s vanilla value chain is still experiencing challenges in maintaining the quality required at the International market because of Immature Vanilla Harvesting, Poor post-harvest handling, Processing and Storage which has threatened the survival of the industry.
The Minister has stated that theft and undercover processing activities such as roasting, burying underground and informal trade have so much affected the entire value chain including the Farmers, Processors, Exporters and the revenue because profits decline as the country’s vanilla product is less competitive in the market.
Government has therefore collaborated with the Catholic Relief Services, VANEX, vanilla farmers and processors in promoting the development of the vanilla value chain in Uganda and the 25 Local Governments where vanilla is grown have also risen up to tackle the vices and to address the vanilla challenges in the country, he added.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has declared vanilla harvest dates for the past two years, in a bid to improve the quality of the crop and promote Uganda’s global position as the leading source of high-quality vanilla and this has paid off dividends as evidenced by positive testimonies about the country’s quality of vanilla by the Global Vanilla Buying Community, organized under the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative.
For vanilla to achieve the flavour preferred by buyers on the international market, it must be harvested only when it is mature, which is also a stronger position to protect the farmers from price fluctuations on the worldwide vanilla market and make Uganda a number one supplier of the high-quality vanilla in the world.
“I hereby declare that the appropriate vanilla harvest date for the second season of the year 2020 shall be the 11th of January 2021 onwards. Farmers should remember to only pick ripe vanilla beans. The Government of Uganda will take strong punitive action against anyone found harvesting, or in possession of vanilla beans before the stipulated date.”
He also directed the Agricultural Police in collaboration with the Private Sector to popularize the message, to hunt down and expose all non-compliant individuals.