Uganda tightens vanilla harvest measures as world prices tumble

Source: Xinhua| 2019-11-14 20:07:01|Editor: xuxin
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KAMPALA, Nov. 14 (Xinhua) -- Uganda on Thursday issued new measures to be followed when harvesting vanilla in efforts to earn big despite world prices for the flavoring tumbling on account of increased supply.

Christopher Kibanzanga, minister of state for agriculture told reporters here that the harvest date for the second season has been pushed to January 15, 2020 instead of the earlier announced Dec. 15.

Kibanzanga said the change is as a result of late rains which led to late pollination across all the key vanilla producing regions in the country.

The minister urged all farmers to stick to the new harvest date, noting that those who flout it risk arrest.

"It is a well-established fact that vanilla becomes fully mature at 9 months after pollination, by which time the vanillin content is high enough for farmers to harvest and attract good international buyers," the minister said, adding that enforcing the right harvest dates has proven to be an effective measure in guaranteeing high vanilla quality.

"Anyone found harvesting or in possession of vanilla before this date will be dealt with by government accordingly. Farmers are required to pick only mature ripe vanilla beans," he warned.

Kibanzanga said for the farmers to sustainably earn from the crop, they have to maintain the high standards even in the face of falling global prices.

"The most recent market trends indicate that supply from the key producing countries including Madagascar, Indonesia, Uganda and others is now picking up, which, in effect, means that prices will continue to fall in the near future," he said, noting that the farm-gate prices in June averaged 210,000 shillings (57 U.S. dollars) per kilogram compared to the 250,000 shillings in December last year.

Uganda, according to the minister, has an opportunity to position itself as the world's leading supplier of premium quality vanilla, in light of the favorable climate, two crop seasons, good soils and organic farming practices.

He said there is an increasing demand for all-natural and organic vanilla from major global food companies especially in Europe and North America.

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 dollars. Uganda accounts for about five percent of the global production.