Uganda: Demonstrating Patience

Vanilla farming in Uganda
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This note describes the success of the 'Investments in Developing Export Agriculture' (IDEA) in increasing the exports of the Ugandan vanilla from $8,000 in 1995 to $25 million in 2003. The note opines that the IDEA model has become an effective tool for reducing rural poverty. It tells the story of Hajji Yunus Lubwama and his progression from subsistence farming to vanilla farming in 1992.

The note then describes the following features of IDEA's methods:

  • Working with processors and producers to develop the vanilla crop;
  • Using tactics such as radio announcements to offer training to peasant framers;
  • Convincing farmers that vanilla can be a tool to attack rural poverty.

The note also states that:

  • Demonstration sites like Hajji Yunus' have grown from none in 1995 to 50 in 2003 over 18 districts;
  • Uganda now produces over 5% of the world annual production of 2,500 tons of cured vanilla;
  • The country's product is competitive in both price and quality;
  • The Uganda National Vanilla Association (UNVA), comprising processors and exporters, sets harvesting dates and quality parameters;
  • UNVA and IDEA have contracted local laboratory to provide pre-shipment analysis to enhance the quality of Uganda vanilla.

The note concludes with the mention of a new apex vanilla association that is dedicated to the long-term growth of the industry and the well-being of stakeholders, offering services such as security awareness for growers.