Kampala, Uganda | THE INDEPENDENT | The Minister of Agriculture has broken bad news to vanilla farmers that they will be earning less money from their harvest this year due to a fall in the price of the crop on the world market.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, the price of vanilla on the export market has fallen from 400 US dollars in 2019 to 395.9 US dollars per kilogramme (from 1.47 million shillings to 1.46 million shillings) per kilo. The fall will affect more than 150,000 Ugandans who are estimated to be involved in growing the lucrative crop. Ugandan farmers of course do not get the full price as there are logistical costs that their exporters incur, and a fall in the world price may mean a steeper fall in what the farmer is paid.
Minister Vicent Ssempijja says the drop in price of vanilla was caused by the COVID-19 global pandemic and international market challenges which affected export of the crop.
The minister says in addition to prices falling, vanilla farmers in the country are not earning as much as they would due to lack of value addition chain.
The vanilla value addition chain in Uganda is still experiencing challenges which threaten the survival of the industry like immature harvest, poor handling, processing and poor storage thus failing to maintain the quality of the vanilla required on the international market hence leading to the drop in the prices of the less competitive vanilla beans .
The government has however put in effort to lift the quality of the vanilla beans by collaborating with Catholic Relief Services and other private sector organisations so that they can address the vanilla challenges faced today.
The minister also says that declaring and respecting of the vanilla harvest dates is very crucial and the reason is for the vanilla to achieve the flavor preferred by the international buyers hence has to be harvested when mature.
Things could even get worse if harvesting and selling of premature vanilla continues as the international buyers are bound to turn their backs on the vanilla from Uganda. This would lead to yet lower earnings among the farmers, so they should only harvest when it is fully mature and ripe to maintain the vanillin molecular content.
The minister thus urges the farmers to address the practices that reduce the quality of vanilla of Uganda to be in a stronger position to protect its farmers from price fluctuations on the world market and target to become the number one supplier of high quality vanilla.