Agri Business

Covid-19 plays spoilsport on Vanilla prices and consumption worldwide

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on November 18, 2020 Published on November 18, 2020

Vanilla being sorted

Currently, the prices are hovering at $150 per kg for dry beans, while green beans stand at $25 per kg

The pandemic situation across the world seems to have played spoilsport on the prospects of Vanilla farmers from realising a better price as production picks up globally, including in India.

Currently, the prices are hovering at $150 per kg for dry beans, while green beans stand at $25 per kg. Farmers said that the closing down of hotels and restaurants and the Covid-19 impact in the HoReCa segment has hit the consumption badly.

As per the data available with the Directorate of Arecanut & Spices Development, vanilla production in India is about 100 tonnes, which is spread over 250 hectares mostly in Karnataka and Kerala.

Also read: Farmers taste success with vanilla beans

Industry sources put the global production figure to around 3,000 tonnes. Vanilla, cultivated as an intercrop crop, is the second important spice after saffron in terms of commercial value.

According to R Mahendran, Managing Director, Expo Van and Indian Vanilla Initiative Pvt Ltd, the price factor even at this price range farmers find it remunerative to take up vanilla farming.

Pandemic impact

He told BusinessLine that the prices were above $200 in the beginning of 2020. But Covid has had an impact on consumption which brought down the rates. During the first quarter of 2017, the prices have sky-rocketed touching $500 per kg due to a combination of factors such as rise in consumption, decrease in production. Later, the production had gone up in India, Madagascar in the last three years.

Joseph Sebastain, a Vanilla farmer in Thankamony in Idukki said that overseas markets have started improving after relaxation of lockdown. The existing prices are more or less stable, which is expected to continue for the time being with rising production in many countries. Vietnam is a new entrant in vanilla production. Indonesia, Tanzania, Mexico, Uganda are also carrying out farming. Since the farming is mostly carried out in African countries in an unorganised manner, it would be difficult to get an exact production figures, he said.

Sebastain, who is also the Managing Director of Eco Spice Ingredients, said vanilla is a labour intensive crop, which requires manual pollination of flowers. The price volatility, labour shortage, threat of fungal disease all have discouraged many from taking up farming.

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Published on November 18, 2020
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