The government of Uganda through the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries has passed out a strong warning to anyone that will be found harvesting, or in possession of green vanilla beans outside the stated dates.
According to the Minister of State for Agriculture Kibanzanga Christopher, “We have observed that each time vanilla prices rise, we receive cases of theft, loss of lives, wide spread premature vanilla harvesting which ultimately compromises the quality of the Ugandan vanilla.”
“Worse of all, the vanilla farmer is the most affected party. It is therefore our duty as Government to work with all vanilla actors to find lasting solutions to these challenges,” he said.
He also said the ministry needs to address the vanilla challenges in order to harness the available world market opportunities.
Districts like Ntoroko and Buikwe have got approved Ordinance and Bylaw, respectively.
According to Kibanzanga, the first season for planting will begin on 15th of June on wards and the second season will begin on the 15th of December.
Kibanzanga noted that farmers should only pick ripe Vanilla beans, adding that government will take strong punitive action against anyone found harvesting, or in possession of green vanilla beans outside these dates.
“I am directing my Ministry staff to be vigilant on this especially the Agricultural Police in collaboration with Operation Wealth creation commanders, to work closely with the Private Sector to popularize these harvest dates, hunt down and expose all culprits,” he said.
The ministry also warned that only under exceptional circumstances, driven by weather uncertainties which lead to differences in plant growth in different regions, may these dates be brought forward or backward by two weeks in certain Districts.
“In this case, my Ministry staff will work with Local government staff, the private sector actors-especially farmers, local leaders and vanilla curers, to ascertain this need and make the necessary temporary harvest dates adjustment and announcement.”
Vanilla is one of the high value crops grown in 25 Districts of Uganda, mainly in Central, Eastern and Western parts of the country.
Vanilla is used to add flavor to drinks, dairy products, sweet food, cosmetic products and may also be applied in pharmaceutical industries.
The Dairy sector is the largest consumer of vanilla. It is used in ice cream, yoghurt, chocolate and other flavored dairy products.
In 2018, Uganda produced about 300,000Kg of Vanilla and exported 23,000Kg of cured vanilla worth USD 6.40 million.
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. Madagascar is the largest producer (1500 to 1800 MT per year) while Uganda only accounts for about 5% of the Global Production.