The government through the Ministry of Agriculture and Animal Industry (MAAIF) will soon draft a Vanilla Bill, which shall be discussed at in the cabinet and later tabled to the Parliament for consideration.
Hon. Vincent Bamulenzeki Ssempijja, the Minister of Agriculture and Animal Industry says this is as a result of constant demand from the farmers, who are perceived to be the leading stakeholders in the crop.
“I am currently discussing this matter with the Prime Minister Hon. Rugunda, we are working on certain modalities, to make sure that we have the Bill,” he said.
“Vanilla is a sophisticated plant and its market is also sophisticated and certain factors have come up like the international community now wants fresh vanilla, they are fed up of the vanillins that are produced in laboratories, so the future for this bright,” he added.
The Vanilla Bill according to Ssempija aims at addressing the problems that are majorly affected by the farmers which include; theft, quality of vanilla produced, uniform harvest periods and increment in the punishments that are given to the culprits.
He noted that Vanilla has proved to be a sustainable and profitable crop for farmers and the single crop in Uganda with the highest price per kilogram.
“Vanilla Quality is compromised by Immature Vanilla Harvesting, Poor handling, Processing and Storage. Low Vanilla quality is resented by International Vanilla Buyers. This affects all the stakeholders along the entire value chain: the Farmers, Processors, Exporters and Uganda as a Country. Profits decline and as a country, our vanilla becomes less competitive in the market,”
Vanilla is one of the high value crops grown in over 25 Districts of Uganda, mainly in Central, Eastern and Western regions.
Ssempija noted that the Bill will facilitate the growth of Vanilla which will help in rising the exportation capacity to over 3500 tones as compared to the current 2500.
Vanilla prices rose up to Shs250, 000 in July 2018 for green vanilla beans at the farm-gate, but has since reduced to Shs50,000, according to Ssempijja.
“This price is still higher than any other crop that is grown in the country currently,”
To speak with Chimpreports, Ssempijja had just concluded addressing journalists at the Uganda Media Centre, about the official commencement of the Vanilla harvest for the second season, which he said will start on January 11.
“Declaring and respecting vanilla harvest dates is crucial. 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,” he said adding,
“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,”
Commenting on the Bill development, Alex Lwakuba, the Commissioner for Crop production at MAAIF noted that the Vanilla law proposal will be weighed in consideration with the 1994 Ordinance, as guided by lawyers from the Solicitor General’s Office.
“We are proposing the vanilla law because it is what the stakeholders are demanding but however it is taking long as compared to what we had anticipated because the lawyers in Solicitor General’s office have a discussion with us and they are looking at alternatives of the independent laws,” he said adding.
“They have told us to look for Regulations in the 1994 Ordinance. We are looking into these Regulations and if the regulations are found sufficient, there will be no use of the law but as we do this, we are telling the police to prosecute the culprits because if somebody has gone into somebody’s farm to steal that is theft,” he noted.
The Minister said that the government is collaborating with partners like; Catholic Relief Services, Private sector organizations for example; VANEX, vanilla farmers and processors promoting the development of vanilla value chain in Uganda and to address the vanilla challenges in the country. “Local Governments where vanilla is grown have also risen up to tackle the vices. We have adopted best practices from other vanilla producing countries that experience similar challenges and we have started receiving encouraging reports from International buyers regarding the quality of vanilla that we export. We need to scale out such achievements until Uganda emerges as number one source for the best vanilla in the world,”