KAMPALA, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Uganda's ministry of agriculture on Tuesday urged vanilla farmers in the east African country to take advantage of the rising global demand for the flavoring product.
Christopher Kibanzanga, minister of state for agriculture told reporters here that major global food companies are resorting to all-natural and organic vanilla, which has pushed up the demand and the price.
"This offers a major opportunity for Uganda which has the most conducive climate to increase the production of premium quality natural and organic vanilla," said Kibanzanga.
Ministry of agriculture figures showed that in 2018, Uganda produced about 300,000 kg of vanilla and exported 23,000 kg of cured vanilla worth 6.4 million U.S. dollars. Uganda accounts for about five percent of the global production.
"We have a window of opportunity to secure a growing long-term profitable vanilla sector. Vanilla has proved to be a sustainable and profitable crop for farmers in Uganda that has potential to deliver the country into the medium income status," Kibanzanga said.
The minister urged farmers to desist from harvesting premature vanilla, noting that this would compromise the quality and therefore less demand for Ugandan vanilla on the global market.
"If we can work together to address practices that reduce the quality of vanilla, we will be in a stronger position to protect our farmers from the traditional peaks and troughs of the worldwide vanilla market. Uganda can certainly become number one supplier of the best quality vanilla in the world," he said.
He said the government is working with Sustainable Vanilla Initiative, a consortium of the world's biggest vanilla buyers, to position Uganda as a pivot for stabilizing the natural vanilla market in the world.
He said the government is also drafting regulations to address the vanilla challenges in order to harness the available world market opportunities. Some districts like Ntoroko and Buikwe already have these regulations.
The minister warned that anybody involved in vanilla malpractices such as theft, harvesting pre-mature vanilla beans and de-coloring vanilla green beans through roasting, would be arrested.
The minister announced that the harvest dates will start on June 15, for the first season and December 15 for the second season.