Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The low prices of Vanilla has left farmers and exporters worried.
In 2004, vanilla prices fell from about 150,000 shillings a kilogram to 1,000 shillings. This was the worst in the history of vanilla growing, forcing many farmers to cut down the plants and abandon the business.
Currently, the farm gate price of the crop has fallen from 270, 000 shillings in the last harvesting season that ended in January this year, to 180,000 shillings. A kilogram of cured vanilla has reduce from USD 600 (about 2.2 million shillings) to USD 400 (about 1.48 million) and the prices are expected to drop further.
According to Retired Maj. Alex Baguma, the Operation Wealth Creation – OWC liaisons officer for Vanilla in the country, the drop of prices has been as a result of a surge of production in Madagascar, the leading growers of Vanilla in the world.
He says that what had caused the prices to shoot up was the cyclone that had hit the Island nation in the previous two years destroying vanilla gardens. This, according to Baguma, led to a decrease in supply and an eventual increase in the prices.
Robinson Karumba, a vanilla farmer in Ntoroko district, says that they are worried that the fall in prices could make them fail to recover the money that he put in the business and as a result suffer losses.
According to Africa-Uganda-business-travel-guide.com, who are among the leading exporters of Ugandan vanilla, the fallen prices are a threat to the business.
“As the producing countries are spreading out farming, prices are likely to decline further. But it will not go down to the level of $25/kg witnessed in 2007-08,” reads a post on their website.
Globally, Madagascar leads in vanilla exports with 1,600 tons per year followed by Indonesia and France. Uganda comes in at 12th position with export revenue of USD 5.7 million, according to the latest (2016) statistics.
Earlier this year, the Uganda Export Promotions Board said the country is targeting to export 100 tons of vanilla this year, from about 75 tons exported last year.