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Vanilla Farmers Want Curfew Until Harvesting Period

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The farmers usually harvest the highly prized crop between June and July. A Kilogram of fresh vanilla fibre costs more than Shillings 200,000 on the market. Middlemen buy a kilogram at around 160,000 Shillings while established companies can buy it at as much as 200,000 Shillings per kilogram.
Vanilla Beans Approaching Maturity

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The ongoing curfew has been a blessing to vanilla farmers in Kasese and Bundibugyo districts, saying it has shielded them from thieves who usually terrorize them prior to the harvesting period.

The farmers usually harvest the highly prized crop between June and July. A Kilogram of fresh vanilla fibre costs more than Shillings 200,000 on the market. Middlemen buy a kilogram at around Shillings 160,000 while established companies can buy it at as much as Shillings 200,000 per kilogram.

However, the farmers are often on tension during the harvesting period of thieves who raid their gardens. A number of farmers have lost their lives while guarding their gardens. However, Simon Tsongo, a vanilla farmer and Chairperson Kasenero Organic Farmers Cooperative Limited, says they have had some breath of fresh air because of the curfew.

He says cases of vanilla theft have drastically reduced this season since most people are forced to be home at night. Thieves would use motorcycles to carry their loot from the gardens to taxi and bus stages, according to Tsongo. He wants the curfew maintained until after July to help farmers have a fruitful harvest.     

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Loyce Masika has been growing vanilla for the past four years. According to Masika, she expects to earn fully from her plantation. Unlike other seasons when Masika would spend sleepless nights with her children patrolling her garden, she has been able to sleep without fear of thieves raiding her garden.

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Malik Atugonza, another farmer from Kyalhumba Town Council in Kyalhumba Sub County wants the government to consider their request to establish curfews during the harvesting period to safeguard farmers from thieves.

“Our leaders can actually use this period to assess the importance of a curfew to vanilla farmers who have always been attacked by thief at night while guarding their gardens,” Atugonza says  

Jimmy Bagonza Polisi, the CEO Rwenzori Cooperative Union predicts a slight increase in the volume of vanilla production this season because of reduced theft. He says the drop in theft has given farmers the hope of keeping their produce in the gardens until it’s ready for harvesting. 

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Juvenal Muke, the Kyondo Sub-county Chairperson says they have registered fewer cases of vanilla theft during this lockdown. In Bundinbugyo farmers continue to use the Bundibugyo Vanilla Wimberley team to protect their gardens.  

The Bundibugyo District Production Officer, Light Kisembo says the curfew has given farmers hope for better production. The government set the dates for harvest, selling and buying of vanilla as June 15 to July for this season and December 15 for the next season. 

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