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Uganda avails high-quality Uganda Vanilla to its local and export markets. Family growers with less than 2 acres or several small tracts of land are the main sources of the raw fresh Uganda vanilla scattered across the country.
Uganda vanilla is one of the most important exports for the country. Its essentiality is highlighted by the fact that Uganda ranks fourth as the biggest exporter of vanilla globally. It also only comes second to saffron as the most expensive export. It is rare to come by this plant and some of the few places it is grown include Madagascar, Mexico, China, France and Indonesia.
Uganda vanilla is a meal flavoring plant, characterized by thick, flat leaves that are similar to those of orchids. It is basically that spice that emanates from the plants’ pod. This spice is produced by the dried bean fruit.
The plant serves multiple purposes which include making of perfumes, aromatherapy and as a flavoring agent for baked products.
The origin of vanilla dates back to Mexico. According to a common myth a long time ago a goddess wedded a human being and upon their death vanilla grew where they were buried. But another version says that the plant was brought by colonialists in the Indian Ocean islands ranging from those of Madagascar and Mauritius in 1819 from where it spread to neighboring countries like Tanzania. Ugandans however say the plant was introduced directly to Uganda by colonialists in the 1940s. It was first cultivated in Salama Estate farm located in Mukono district, one of the three farms belonging to British farmers. They would later experiment it in the 1960s with several Uganda farmers in Kooja parish in a bid to increase its production from where it spreading to the rest of country.
Export value and benefits
Until 2016, Uganda recorded vanilla exports ranged between 0.65- 75.4 tons every year. The plant is such a highly prized commodity and its prices have been soaring in the last two years. The only low moment witnessed was in 2014. Due to the handsome prices it was fetching in the market buyers decided to use synthetic flavors and it nearly led to the collapse of the sector. The sector has since stabilized with prices going up with each passing year. One of the main reasons which has uplifted the appeal of Uganda vanilla is the growth of the plant via natural means. Farm-gate prices are currently about $70 dollars for every kilo while. Subsequent prices at the world market stand at $500, an increase of $200 when compared to 2017 prices. Projections released by the Uganda Export Promotions Board indicate the country’s total exports for 2018 could hit 100 tons. Last year they exported 75 tons of Uganda vanilla.
The main challenge farmers are facing at the moment is theft of the crop whereby they are forced incur costs as they hire armed guards to watch over their crops. The government has promised to increase security in areas growing vanilla. Relevant authorities are also working on measures that will curb the sale of immature beans in the markets thus undermining the quality.
Madagascar is the leading exporter in global map with an annual of 1,600 tons.
Vanilla is linked with several nutritional values. It constitutes mineral margins in small bits that form the bulk of the plants nutrients. Its consumption generates the body 4% of potassium. It helps provide balance for blood electorates.
Each serving of vanilla comes with 3 percent magnesium that helps in bone strengthening as well as 1% calcium essential for strengthening the enamels of the teeth. Its carbohydrates daily value of 4% provides the body with energy which is a characteristic that is boosted by the low fat content of vanilla. The total calories count of vanilla stand at 288.
Growing conditions and sources
Family growers extensively farm Uganda vanilla in tracts less than two acres. To ensure they grow the plant using organic means they apply farmyard manure. The growers avoid any usage of chemical sprays or synthetic fertilizers.
The main sources of Uganda vanilla include Mukono, Jinja, Kamuli, Luweero, Kasese, Mpigi, Kayunga and Bundibugyo districts.
Harvesting, curing, packaging and grading
Harvesting of Uganda vanilla commences after the pods turn from the usual deep green color to pale green from the deep green color. Pods containing a hint of yellow on the tips are also harvested. This whole process comes 6-9 months since the flower blossoming date.
Usually skilled workers are contracted to carry out the exercise. They hand pick each pod one after the other by gently detaching it from the stalks. The pods are kept in baskets placed under the shades. After a week they come back and pick any pods that might have matured fully in the past seven days.
Curing and grading takes place the same day of harvesting. Longest beans with the highest vanillin spice margins are placed in grade 1. Grade 2 vanilla measure 10-15 centimeters in length while those in grade three measure 15 centimeters. Split beans are set aside for local use later.
Curing vanilla entails cleaning thoroughly in pure water. The ‘killing’ process follows where the beans are soaked in hot water at 70 degrees Celsius for 2-5 minutes. They are then placed in wooden crates fitted with a blanket interior after passing them through the ‘sweating’ stage.
They are left there under temperatures conditions of 50 degrees Celsius for two days whereby they turn into a golden brown hue. The seeds usually emanate a pleasant odor.
The final stage involves drying Uganda vanilla in the tropical sun. In a process that could go for up to two weeks they are dried over a dark blanket that enables them to absorb moisture. After that period, moisture levels usually reduce by 35 percent. The color of the beans usually has turned glossy brown while the scent is magnified.
To impart better changes and ensure they are declared ready for packing, the beans are dried further at 35 degrees Celsius coupled with saturation levels of 70 percent.
In their dried form, Uganda vanilla beans are packed in bundles weighing 150 grams. Alternative bundles weigh 250 grams. Natural fibers are used to tie them carefully. Metallic boxes or wooden boxes are used to package the bundles usually fitted with wax paper linings. With the wax linings, Uganda vanilla can preserve its awesome aromatic condition for at least 60 days. Labels are placed on the cargo indicating source, net weight, name and destinations.
Using our refrigerated trucks temperature levels of 5 degrees Celsius are maintained in the course of transporting Uganda vanilla to the Kampala International airport for airlifting.
Uganda vanilla reaches you at any destination across the globe within 1-2 days after dispatch. The prices are affordable to meet any clients’ budget. Uganda vanilla is grown under Global Good Agricultural Practices (GAP)-certified thus the reason it is one of the most sort after commodity. Make an order today!
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