What you need to know:
- Addressing journalists at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala yesterday, Mr Kyakulaga said farmers are forced to hire private security guards at a high price to protect their crops against theft.
The Minister of State for Agriculture, Mr Fred Kyakulaga Bwino, has asked security personnel in vanilla-growing areas to do more to stop theft of the crop and protect farmers from unscrupulous middlemen.
“I call upon the relevant government law enforcement agencies; police and local government security system and the political leadership to punish offenders to guarantee farmers’ safety,” he said.
Addressing journalists at Uganda Media Centre in Kampala yesterday, Mr Kyakulaga said farmers are forced to hire private security guards at a high price to protect their crops against theft.
“I’m also aware that farmers sometimes feel the need to harvest their vanilla prematurely due to the fear of theft. Thieves also get mostly premature vanilla, which grossly compromises the quality of vanilla,” he said.
Mr Kyakulaga said low quality vanilla fetch low prices on the international market.
“This affects all stakeholders along the entire value chain. It is, therefore, important that the issues affecting this potentially-vibrant industry are addressed,” he said.
The minister revealed that the country produces more than 6,000 metric tonnes of vanilla per year and gets about $10m (about Shs37b) annually, adding that the government is working towards increasing earnings from the crop to more than $1billion per year.
He said the government through a multi-stakeholder approach, with support from partners such as the Catholic Relief Services, has embarked on the formulation of ordinances at the local government level to guide vanilla production, harvesting, processing and marketing.
“Two districts; Kasese and Rubirizi already have ordinances gazetted for use and four other districts have them in advance,” he said.
“My ministry is in the process of getting appropriate regulatory framework which will address the unique challenges of this value chain at a national level,” Mr Kyakulaga said.
He advised farmers to properly handle and store harvested vanilla to ensure high quality, saying this would enable them earn more from their produce.
“I would like to emphasise that theft and early selling of immature vanilla is harmful to the reputation of Uganda’s vanilla on the global market,” he added.
Globally, vanilla is only grown in 15 countries and the world vanilla production statistics rank Uganda in seventh position globally.