Vanilla Project, Uganda
The Vanilla project could not be visited with the president, the telephone contacts did not work. She wasn’t present at the project. After returning to the project I met her in her project office in Kasese. She didn’t apologize. The office on the outskirts of the city is small, in the forecourt there are piqued vegetable plants in bales of earth to be bought by the women, cabbage, eggplants, tomatoes, potatoes etc. . The office is tiny. There’s a computer. She was not prepared for the audit of the accounting records. She showed receipts with receipts from the four instructors who work full-time for the local agricultural ministry in Kasese. There were also receipts for the vanilla plants. A settlement was promised for 3/20.
The project itself is located 60 minutes from Kasese and is difficult to find. The descriptions of the project locations were completely inadequate, as was the case here.
We have met the vanilla women with the help of village to village. There were few of them because they had gone to church. We visited the first vanilla plantations with the instructors. Noah told me. The women worked very well in the training and learned a lot. Several women have family members in other vanilla farms. Everything runs as smallholder agriculture.
The vanilla plant is planted as a vine between banana trees so that there is enough shade. A two-foot deep hole is necessary and compost, morning and evening must be watered in the dry season. The women have between 50 and 150 vanilla plants depending on the size of the family country. The women live widely scattered, partly in the mountains. The women have also learned how to fight diseases of the vanilla plants, e.g. with herbs. So they grow herb gardens and disperse gff. powder over the flowers.
The first vanilla blossom is expected after two years. Then the pods come. The women demonstrated how fertilization can be done by hand. The women are very skilful at it. They demonstrate it on a few old vanilla plants. A vanilla plant can be harvested 2x a year. The harvest is in February and July. There’s a lot of money for vanilla. That’s why the women are so patient. You have to work two years without a return. 7 fields were visited. It was found that the vines on the ground were protected with dry undergrowth and banana leaves. The women expect at least 250,000 USH for 1 kilo of vanilla. A plant can produce at least 1 kilo of vanilla.
A meeting with 40 women took place and the list of participants was handed over. The women are committed and cheerful – despite their great poverty. They like to laugh and dance and sing. The women are between 20 and 50 years old and have between 4 and 10 children. The meeting took place in front of the parish hall, which can also be used as a training room. There is elementary school, secondary school, medical station and a nearby hospital. All the women give birth in the hospital. It costs about 15 000 USH. Five women had attended secondary school, few speak English, although English is the official language. Two trainers explained the training courses. The trainer Noah Nzaghate from the agricultural department in Kasese praised the participants. 4x 7 days was the training, which is passed on to other women. The training and the women’s meetings take place in the parish hall.
All women are small farmers, their husbands are farmers too. They’re thrilled to get a cash income from the vanilla project. Now Jolly and Margaret are planting the bananas in the shade. They water mornings and evenings. The women from the group get up at 6 a.m., make breakfast for the family, then work in the fields. Also let goats graze. At noon they make dinner for the family. From 3-4 p.m. some rest, others do laundry etc… That’s the way it is every day. They go to church on Sundays. Sometimes we have meat on Sundays. Chicken is only for Christmas. Everyone has a mobile phone, but many network problems. They don’t have television. Electricity is still difficult, as is access to clean drinking water. There are hardly any sanitary facilities at the schools, not in the village, sometimes at the petrol stations. Very small motorcycles have many, especially young men. They cost between 70 and 120 euros and come from Japan, China and India.