The Uganda Government has set dates for vanilla harvesting to conform to the international practice.
Addressing the press about Vanilla harvest dates at Uganda Media Centre today, Christopher Kibanzanga, the State Minister for Agriculture, who led a team from the Directorate of Crop Resources, said government is taking precautions on vanilla harvesting because it’s a high value crop especially for the international market.
“We are doing some of these activities together with Uganda Police and Operation Wealth Creation. We are also coming up with laws,” Kibazanga said.
He added: “…I hereby declare that the appropriate vanilla Harvest Dates shall be the 15th of June onwards for the first season and the 15th of December for the second season.”
He noted that they have observed each time vanilla prices rise, there are cases of theft; loss of lives, wide spread premature vanilla harvesting which ultimately compromises the quality of Ugandan vanilla. “Worse of all, the vanilla farmer is the most affected party,” he revealed.
He added: We ask farmers to be vigilant as we get close to the vanilla harvesting period. There have been cases of theft the crop and murder of farmers already recorded in Kasese district and others. That’s why we are announcing the official harvest dates.”
He however said the harvest dates is short term measure.
“…we also have long term ones to eliminate those cases,” he said.
Global consumption of vanilla ranges between 2,100MT to 2,400 MT per year over the last 10 years. However, there is now increasing demand for all-natural and organic vanilla from major Global food companies
In 2018, Uganda produced about 300,000Kg of Vanilla and exported 23,000Kg of cured vanilla worth USD 6.40 million.
“It is not surprising to hear that vanilla is now referred to as the “Green Gold”. This is because of the price fetched from cured vanilla which is higher than the value of one kilogram of silver,” Kibazanga said. In 2017 and 2018, the major importing countries for Ugandan vanilla included USA, France, United Kingdom, Germany, Japan, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, Israel, South Africa, Turkey and Hungary.
Kibanzanga explained that prices for vanilla have been rising over the last few years due to increased demand against very low supply of quality beans.
“In Uganda, prices reached as high as Shs250,000 (per kilogram) in July 2018 for green vanilla beans at the farm-gate,” he said.
Vanilla is one of the high value crops grown in 25 districts of Uganda, mainly in Central, Eastern and Western parts of the country.
Tycoon Aga Sekalala, one of the key players in the Vanilla business thanked government for finally hearing their plea as vanilla farmers and setting dates for harvesting which is an international practice that comes with safety measures.