The Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Bamulangaki Ssempijja together with the Commissioner for Crop production in the Ministry, Alex Lwakuba on 4th December 2020 declared 11th of January 2021 on-wards as the appropriate date to start harvesting vanilla for the second season of the year 2020.
The Minister made the declaration at Media Centre in Kampala. In his statement to Journalists, the Minister said for the past two years, the Ministry of Agriculture has been declaring vanilla harvest dates in a bid to improve the quality of the crop and promote Uganda’s global position as the leading source of high quality vanilla.
“The declaration of Harvest dates by Government has paid dividends. So far, the quality and the overall image of Uganda’s vanilla industry have improved. This is evidenced by positive testimonies from the Global Vanilla Buying Community, organized under the Sustainable Vanilla Initiative,” the Minister said.
The Minister said that declaring and respecting vanilla harvest dates is crucial, adding that the reason is that for vanilla to achieve the flavor preferred by buyers on the international market, it must be harvested only when it is mature.
In difficult economic times being experienced globally, due to COVID 19 pandemic and as supply meets or even exceeds demand, it is expected that international buyers will place more stringent quality requirements on suppliers. Therefore, if premature selling and buying of vanilla continues, there is a possibility of international buyers turning their backs on Ugandan vanilla.
The Minister emphasized that theft and early selling of immature vanilla is harmful to the reputation of Ugandan vanilla on the global market and it leads to lower income for farmers.
He further guide that farmers should harvest their vanilla when fully mature and ripe. Simultaneously, traders and processors must ensure professional handling and processing of vanilla to attain the highest possible vanillin content.
He said if all stakeholders work together to address practices that reduce the quality of vanilla, Government will be in a stronger position to protect farmers from the price fluctuations on the worldwide vanilla market and Uganda will become a number one supplier of the high quality vanilla in the world.
He said farmers should remember to only pick ripe vanilla beans. The Government of Uganda will take strong punitive actions against anyone found harvesting, or in possession of vanilla beans before the stipulated date.
“I am directing my Ministry staff to be vigilant on this issue, especially the Agricultural Police, in collaboration with the Private Sector who are called upon to popularize these harvest dates, to hunt down and expose all culprits who do not respect them,” he directed.