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Agriculture

Districts kick-start establishment of ordinances to protect vanilla farmers against exploitation

Hon. Christopher Kibanzanga, the State Minister for Agriculture speaking to vanilla farmers in Kasese on Saturday. (PHOTO/Courtesy)

KASESE – Districts have kick-started the establishment of ordinances aimed at protecting Vanilla Farmers against exploitation and sustaining quality and profitability of Vanilla.

One of these is the Kasese ordinance, one of the District ordinances put in place since the declaration officially presented by Hon. Christopher Kibanzanga, the State Minister for Agriculture at stakeholder engagements this year.

The ordinances were also drafted through consultation between the Ministry of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries (MAAIF), the Vanilla Exporters Association, Farmer Group Representatives, Local Government, Operation Wealth Creation and Security Organs.

Within the guidance of the Kasese ordinance, every Sub-county is expected to set up a Vanilla Association, which shall comprise of willing persons involved in the growing, selling and buying, processing and curing of vanilla in the Sub-County.

According to MAAIF, at the level of harvesting, farmers are expected to only harvest vanilla when the beans have reached full maturity (Vanilla beans shall be deemed to have reached full maturity at least nine months from the time of pollination.)

Farmers are also expected to ensure that at the time of harvesting, the vanilla bean is full and stiff with a yellow or pale green colour and the blossom ends are yellow or have begun to split open.

MAAIF revealed that harvesting of the vanilla beans shall commence when 5 percent of the beans in the vanilla garden have their apex split.

Farmers are expected to harvest only mature beans from the bunch leaving all other beans grow to full maturity.

“A person who grows, buys and sells, processes or cures vanilla shall not contaminate vanilla beans with any foreign material, including burying the vanilla beans in the ground or submerging in or spraying with water,” said MAAIF in a statement.

In June, the State Minister for Agriculture Hon. Christopher Kibanzanga opened up regional engagements for Vanilla value chain players in Rwenzori sub-region.

The inaugural meetings and field tours were designed to further emphasize the guidelines for appropriate planting and harvesting of Vanilla to avoid a reduction in profitability at the farm level.

The engagements and field tours involved partners including Catholic Relief Services (CRS) which, according to Mr. Niek De Goeij, the Country Representative is supporting farming communities to improve their livelihoods and enabling farmers to meet with the right stakeholders including exporters and buyers of Vanilla in such engagements.

The guidelines for Vanilla were announced at the Uganda Media Center by Hon. Kibanzanga on the 21st of May 2019.

Vanilla is one of the high-value crops grown in 25 Districts of Uganda, mainly in Central, Eastern and Western parts of the country and is used to add flavour to drinks, dairy products, sweet food, cosmetic products and may also be applied in pharmaceutical industries.

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