The state minister for Agriculture, Henry Bagiire, has said that the government is moving forward to make vanilla a priority crop for export.
Addressing the media, Bagiire explained that the crop was initially grown by the private sector but the government would step up to boost the sector.
“My Ministry made national declarations of Vanilla Harvest Dates with the aim of reducing premature harvests, curbing theft, improving the handling and processing practices to ensure that high quality vanilla is exported out of Uganda,”he said.
He said the annual global consumption of vanilla has shot up from 2,100 tonnes to 2,400 tonnes over the last 10 years.
” Uganda’s average exports over the last 5 years, were 31.44 tonnes valued at Shs 20.57 billion according to Uganda Revenue Authority (URA). Vanilla is the world’s second most expensive spice after saffron, because of its multiple uses,”he said.
He noted noted that in the past 3 years, vanilla prices have been extremely high due to a shortage in global supply triggered by a devastating cyclone which affected gardens in Madagascar, the world’s largest producer.
“However, there is now a clear downward trend in global prices as a result of increasing supply from Madagascar and other vanilla producing countries. This trend means that our farmers and exporters may receive much lower prices for their vanilla in the coming seasons,”he said.
Bagiire said in a market situation where supply meets or even exceeds demand, buyers and consumers generally demand high quality products.
“To harness the best opportunities of such a global vanilla market situation, Uganda must out of necessity, identify and emphasize strategies that guarantee high quality of vanilla that we put on the market in order to ensure a sustainable and better price for farmers,”he said.
He called for the effective collaborative efforts of both the public and private sector actors.
He urged the vanilla growing farmers to refrain from harvesting premature vanilla