1. Success Story

Vanilla Brings the Flavour of Success to Kerala Farmers

Pronami Chetia
Pronami Chetia
vanilla cultivation in India

Vanilla, one of the exotic and second most expensive spices after Saffron has brought the flavor of success in the Indian market. In the present context, Vanilla farming can be regarded as the most rewarding or profitable cultivation adopted by the farmers across the globe due to the chances of higher returns. Moreover, Vanilla farming has brought back the smile and success to a handful of farmers in Kerala at a time when prices of other plantation crops are moving down.

As per reports, prices of dry vanilla beans are hovering between Rs.22,000 and Rs.30,000 a kg in the Indian market due to the lower production, depending on its quality.

Joseph Sebastain, a vanilla farmer of Idukki district, Kerela said: “It cannot be said that prices are declining, but there is a slight correction from last year’s higher levels”.

vanilla cultivation in India

Higher returns from the crop had encouraged more farmers to take up vanilla cultivation where the number has gone up to 3,000 in regions spread across Kerala, Tamil Nadu, and Karnataka.

Sebastain told media that there are no issues connected with vanilla prices in India. However, countries such as Indonesia, Uganda, Madagascar have already started cultivating the new crops, which would take two more years to get the yield. There could be a correction in prices by 2021 when the production from these countries hit the global market, he added.

The production in India has registered a 10 percent growth, touching around 40 tonnes, thanks to a conducive climate prevailing in producing regions, Sebastain said.

However, there is no official data to substantiate production figures and the months of October, November, and December are considered as the harvest season of vanilla. The majority of the farmers here are now looking at the export market in a big way, as the top variety realizing prices in the range between $475 and $490. Currently, the green vanilla season is going on in India at a price tag in the range between 4,000 and 4,500 per kg, which is abnormally high. This has fetched an earning of 20 lakh per acre. It is the third year in a row such high prices for vanilla are prevailing and it is unlikely to sustain next year, said R Mahendran of ExpoVan and Indian Vanilla Initiative.

Moreover, vanilla is a labor-intensive crop that requires manual pollination of flowers. This has forced the majority to abstain from its cultivation because of the shortage of workers in the plantation sector. Besides, the price volatility is also posing a problem in taking the cultivation of the crop.

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