Vanilla is a spice derived from orchids of the genus Vanilla, primarily obtained from pods of the Mexican species, flat-leaved vanilla (V. planifolia). ... Pollination is required to make the plants produce the fruit from which the vanilla spice is obtained.
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Vanilla grows well in warm and humid places where rainfall of upto 150 mm per year occurs.
Though vanilla grows in all types of soil, loam topsoil is more suitable for it. Small saplings or stem cuttings are used for planting. Stems that have at least 15-20 internodes will bloom fast
Vanilla has to be pollinated by hand, producing one bean per flower, a labor-intensive process. The plant flowers for three months. Six months later, the harvest starts, continuing between July and October. Vanilla vines are not terribly thirsty. But they do need a regular drink, about a litre of water per week.
That’s increasingly a problem in some parts of Tanzania. There is a short rainy season of a month or two from the end of November to early January, followed by a couple of months without rain. A longer rainy season begins in April. Then it gets really dry again in September and October. Many crops can’t wait that long for water.
Smallholder farmers in Tanzania are earning huge profits from the thriving global vanilla market, offsetting losses they have frequently suffered due to poor yields from growing traditional cash crops, notably coffee.
With the price of vanilla hitting record high, a growing number of farmers in the East African country are foregoing coffee and other cash crops in favor of vanilla cultivation.
Vanilla is a flavoring ingredient frequently utilized in the food industry. Its extracts are used in beverages and bakery products all over the world, including ice cream, cakes and yogurt.
From Tanga Kilimanjaro in the north to Kagera in the northwest to Njombe in the southern highlands, a growing number of farmers are switching to vanilla cultivation, with the hope to reap big profits.
According to Tanzania's Agriculture Ministry, vanilla production has increased significantly in the last five years, rising from 229.8 tons per year in 2015 to 1,949 tons in 2020. Deputy Agriculture Minister Hussein Bashe said in April that the government is determined to promote vanilla farming by addressing various challenges the farmers face, including access to quality seeds and finding reliable markets that benefit smallholders.