Agri Business

For persistent farmers, vanilla brings flavour of success

V Sajeev Kumar Kochi | Updated on January 08, 2018 Published on January 05, 2018

Harvest good crop; prices up on low yields in Madagascar, production dip in Indonesia



Vanilla cultivation seems to have turned a viable proposition for farmers, as the current season ends on a positive note fetching them good returns.

A handful of farmers engaged in vanilla cultivation in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu has benefited from the harvest as the crop prices are now ruling at ₹5,500/kg for green beans and ₹30,000/kg for dry beans.

The three-month harvest season, which ended in December, recorded a production of around 10 tonnes from the three States.

As there is no official data on of production, unconfirmed reports put the figure between 10 and 20 tonnes.

Joseph Sebastian, a vanilla farmer of Thangamony in Kerala’s Idukki district, told BusinessLine that flowering for the next season should start in April and a renewed interest among farmers might perk up the production the next season.

Prices have been on the higher side in recent times due to low yield in Madagascar because of climatic issues.

This, coupled with the declining production in Indonesia, helped push up domestic prices.

Yet, not many farmers are ready to take up vanilla cultivation as it is a labour-intensive crop and requires manual pollination of flowers. Besides price volatility of the crop, he said labour shortage, threat of fungal disease, also discouraged many from taking up vanilla farming.

R Mahendran, Chairman, Expo Van and Indian Vanilla Initiative, said that the current high prices are a “windfall” for farmers who persisted with cultivation of the crop. This will definitely revive vanilla cultivation in India.

He also attributed the recent surge in production to his company’s efforts in taking up contract farming by engaging 1,100 farmers on 1,500 acres in Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu. “My aim is to increase the production of the cured beans to 40 tonnes and enhance the area by 3,000 acres by 2019,” he said.

Production

India’s vanilla production 10 years back was 300 tonnes. But most farmers neglected the crop as prices fell, leading to a drop in output, he added.

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Published on January 05, 2018
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