Karnataka

Farmers unable to reap benefits of rise in vanilla prices

As vanilla is a labour-intensive crop and vulnerable to pest and fungal infections, farmers are reluctant to take up its cultivation.  

The price of vanilla has more than doubled in the past 20 months, but Indian farmers have not been able to reap much benefits from this.

The price of dry vanilla beans of premium variety, which was ₹14,500 per kg in March 2016, has risen to ₹33,000 per kg now.

Vinayaka Hegde, marketing manager of Kadamba Marketing Souharda Sahakari Niyamitha, a cooperative marketing society of farmers in Sirsi, Uttara Kannada, engaged in the marketing of arecanut and spices, told The Hindu that natural calamities in Madagascar for the past three years has resulted in sharp escalation in the price of the produce.

Madagascar accounts for 80% of the global production of vanilla. The average annual production there is at 3,700 tonnes. The yield there had declined by more than 30% in 2015 and 2016 owing to drought.

In March 2017, Cyclone Enawo hit Madagascar owing to which the yield declined.

Mr. Hegde said that the upward movement of price of the produce in India commenced from March 2015 itself. The price of dry beans, which was ₹11,500 per kg in March 2015, increased to ₹14,500 by March 2016. Following this, the prices surged further and it was being purchased at ₹25,000 by March 2017. He said that in the past nine months, prices have risen by 40%.

The demand for the produce is such that even dry beans of second rate variety, thin, unripened and brown green, are being purchased at ₹22,000 per kg.

Nagarajja Adiveppar, horticulture scientist with University of Agricultural and Horticultural Sciences, Shivamogga, said when the prices of vanilla escalated similarly from 2003 to 2006, many farmers had taken up its cultivation. However, owing to slump in price from 2008 and the onset of fusarium wilt disease and potyvirus, farmers gave up its cultivation. In addition to this, vanilla is a labour-intensive crop and each flower has to be hand pollinated. This made farmers lose interest in the crop, he said.

Shekharappa, a farmer from Induvalli in Sorab taluk, said Malnad region is conducive for cultivation of vanilla but the farmers could not reap the benefits from the present price boom.

When the prices of vanilla began to escalate in March 2015, the Department of Horticulture could have promoted its cultivation by providing necessary training and information to farmers. But there was no such effort. Even now, there is dearth of quality planting material, he said.

Anand, another farmer from Kodur in Hosanagar taluk, said that though prices have surged, the crop is vulnerable to pest and fungal infections. Hence, farmers are reluctant to take up its cultivation.

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Printable version | Oct 19, 2020 4:17:32 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/farmers-unable-to-reap-benefits-of-rise-in-vanilla-prices/article22482973.ece

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