Scarcity forces vanilla price to rise

Tuesday July 16 2013

By Dorothy Nakaweesi

Increased demand for vanilla has propped up the price of the commodity thus boosting farmers’ incomes.

The increase in prices has been a result of scarcity amidst growing demand.

Latest information indicates that dealers are buying the commodity at Shs13,000 up from Shs10,000 for a kilogramme of fresh beans.

While at the export market the commodity is fetching about Shs81,920 ($32) up from Shs69,120 ($27) depending on the quality.

Experts attribute the low production to the heavy rains that pounded most of the vanilla producing areas earlier in the year.

The rains usually affect the production of the commodity, as pollination of the flowers cannot be conducted during such circumstances.

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“The changes in the climate are currently being felt thus causing cut backs on production for at least two seasons now,” Hajji Muwanga Kisaalita, a Kayunga Vanilla coordinator with Uvan told Prosper.

According to experts, vanilla production in Uganda might begin getting extinct if farmers don’t plant new crop or rehabilitate old gardens in the short run.

According to Mr Kisaalita, Kayunga which was once the country’s leading vanilla producer, in the May-July season only harvested 500 kilogrammes down from 3,000 for Uvan Uganda.

Peak seasons
During the peak season Mr Kisaliita collects more than 20,000 kilogrammes.

Mr Aga Sekalala Snr, the Uvan managing director said as plants get old it will be difficult to have meaningful harvests from the crop.

Mr Phillip Bates, the Esco Uganda managing director, said in order to see an improvement in yields his company has embarked on sensitisation of farmers on growing vanilla.

“We expect a better crop season next year because many farmers are rehabilitating and growing new crops,” Mr Bates said.

Some farmers abandoned vanilla growing in the early 2000s as price plunged from a high of Shs100,000 to a low of Shs2,000 per kilogramme.

Mr Kisaliita said at the moment farmers who had acquired knowledge of growing the crop have either quit or aged.

Apart from growing vanilla farmer are being encouraged to grow other crop varieties including coffee.

However climate concerns continue to pose a challenge to production with the crop’s falling from a bi-annual harvest to a single one.

dnakaweesi@ug.nationmedia.com

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