We lick the ice cream, sip the yorghut with delight and take a
doughnut and the regular mandazi with vanilla taste, without knowing
that we now have our own vanilla produced in Othaya-Nyeri and other
parts of Nyeri District, and soon such plantations are coming near
and will soon step in Nairobi.
vanilla has previously been known to come from Madagascar, India,
Uganda, Indonesia, Tahiti or Hawaii.
Farmers in Nyeri are investing heavily on a newly lucrative crop
synonymous with Madagascar, where this has been an important foreign
cash earner for centuries.
Mr Stephen Wachira Waikwa, project initiator and a member of the
International tropical farmers Organisation
- a body composed of
small scale vanilla growers- says the initiative will diversify
farming options in the area.
The major markets for vanilla are U.S,France, Japan, Germany and the
rest of the E.U.
Nestle foods is the major multinational corporation importing vanilla.
However, smaller companies also import the product.
Prices are very sensitive to supply. As of April last year, vanilla
prices escalated to an all time high.
A Kilogramme of dried beans was fetching approximately SH 40,000
while today the prices have fallen to about SH 30,000.
It is expected that by the time Nyeri vanilla produce hit the market
at around 2008-2009, prices might be in the region of SH 20,000 per
The plant is attacked by only a few pests which can be effectively
controlled by the use of neem tree (mwarubaini) based derivatives.
The crop is however labour intensive like most other cash and
horticultural crops in the region.
It takes about one and a half year from pollination to processed
beans, but one can also take into account the initial process of
planting the vines.
In my next entry i will explore more on the planting process and some
of the selected farmers views regarding this new cash crop.
(story written through information from the Hands of hope, and Waikwa
Wachira of horizon@...
KENNEDY .O. OWINO
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