Kampala, Uganda — Uganda's vanilla harvest date for the first season of this year has been sent for July 1, with the new Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF) Frank Tumwebaze urging farmers, traders and processors to maintain best practices for the product to be competitive on the world market.
Declaration of harvest date is one of the global best practices adopted by MAAIF to fight the vices in the vanilla industry. Vanilla harvesting process takes about a month, but a harvest date declared by Government marks the beginning of the harvesting period.
"Farmers should harvest only fully mature and ripe vanilla. Simultaneously, traders and processors must ensure that they buy only mature vanilla and ensure professional handling and processing of vanilla to attain the highest possible vanillin content," Tumwebaze said in press statement.
Poor quality of vanilla ultimately affects the prices that are offered for Uganda's vanilla by the international buyers. Consequently, the actors including farmers earn less.
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"If we can work together to address the practices that reduce the quality of vanilla, we will be in a stronger position to protect our 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."
Vanilla is a high value horticulture crop grown and used as a flavoring agent in beverages, confectionaries, and pharmaceuticals. In Uganda Vanilla is grown mainly in central, western, and Eastern regions in about 28 districts.
Although the global price of vanilla has dropped, of all the crops grown in Uganda, vanilla still fetches the highest price per kilogram.
Due to its high price, there are several malpractices along the vanilla value chain. These include theft, thuggery, robbery, murders, immature harvesting, handling, and processing, which compromise the overall quality of the final vanilla product that is put on the market.
Government, through MAAIF has partnered with the promoters of vanilla like Catholic Relief Services (CRS), the vanilla exporters association of Uganda (VANEX), UVAN and farmers to identify and popularize strategies that reduce the malpractices along the vanilla value chain to improve the quality and profitability of Uganda's vanilla.