Demonstrating how vanilla spice is planted to 30 smallholder farmers representing farmer groups’ members of MVIWATA in Ng’anda village Wanging’ombe district Njombe region is Mr Haji Ramadhani (Mkandanongwa) a member of MVIWATA from Mlimani local farmers network Morogoro Municipal.
The vanilla production training was organised by members of MVIWATA in Ng’anda village, Wanging’ombe district in Njombe region after been aware that there is untapped potential in Vanilla production. Arranged on theoretical and practical aspects the participants of the training were able to learn the key steps and requirements to grow vanilla from Mr Haji Ramadhani.
Mr Haji Ramadhani famously known as Mr Mkandanongwa is a trainer having a vast experience in agro-ecological practices and spice production. Having received this knowledge from a number of trainings organised by MVIWATA for years, Mr Haji has been useful in training fellow farmers’ members of MVIWATA to advance their production capacity and skills. Mr. Haji learned vanilla production from Kagera region through a farmer to farmer and exchange visits organised by MVIWATA.
Vanilla farming is less popular in Tanzania but farmers from Zanzibar and regions like Kagera, Morogoro, Kilimanjaro and Njombe have run into its cultivation. Vanilla is pollinated by hand, producing one bean per flower. It is a labour-intensive process thus effective to be produced through groups of farmers a model widely used by MVIWATA members.
Vanilla is in big demand in several foreign markets including Europe, Middle East, China, Australia and the United States of America. Vanilla is a sought after product, usually the second most expensive spice in the world. This meal-flavouring plant ranks as the number two most pricey of all spices. Only saffron is higher-priced.
The plant originated in Mexico and is a major natural flavour widely used in many industries as food, beverages, sodas, pharmaceutics, cosmetics tobacco and traditional crafts. Vanilla beans originated in Mexico, and in some Central American countries as Costa Rica and Honduras. However, today vanilla beans are cultivated in many areas of the world and the main producing countries are Madagascar, Indonesia, China, Comoros and in a lesser extent Tonga, Reunion, Turkey and Guadeloupe. Countries that cure vanilla and re-export the finished product make important profits without running risks associated with primary production. Thus, the main re-exporting countries are Japan, Germany, France, UK and USA.
Vanilla production in Tanzania however profitable faces a number of challenges including lack of a by-law to protect the crop, skilled extension officers with background on vanilla, limited technology and lack of a coordination mechanism. Trainings to MVIWATA farmers groups by Mr. Haji are in series because vanilla production requires step by step trainings from production to harvesting, sorting and grading, packing, transportation and marketing.
Lastly Mr, Haji urged farmers during the training that for them to get quality and sustainable yield, organic farming technique has to be adopted. He further emphasizes that mechanization is not a solution. Vanilla is interplanted with other crops and grows on support trees. Therefore, land preparation prior to vanilla planting has to be done by hoe and cannot be done by tractor. Once planted, weeding also has to be done by hoe. Vanilla plants have shallow roots and would easily be damaged during weeding if care is not taken.