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Huge untapped potential in Vanilla cultivation

Revenue can surpass other plantation exports, says grower:



MONEY SPINNER: Managing Director, Vanilla Tropical Flowers in Kotmale, G. P. W. Luxman with a vanilla creeper.

VANILLA CULTIVATION: The huge financial potential in Vanilla plantations has been underplayed so far. The plant grown in the hill country has the potential to be Sri Lanka's number one foreign exchange earner beating the revenue gained from all other plantation crops including tea.

Managing Director, Vanilla Tropical Flowers in Kotmale, G. P. W. Luxman said that he had obtained technical know-how from Italy after being in that country for over 12 years. He said that if Sri Lanka can plant 5,000 hectares of vanilla it would yield US dollars 300 million annually.

He said that Vanilla is utilised to manufacture perfumes, food flavours, chocolate, ice cream, milk, medicine and for several other uses and the present production is not adequate to meet the present global demand.

He said that in addition to the revenue Sri Lanka can earn from planting Vanilla, the project would also generate over 65,000 direct employment opportunities.

Another advantage would be that agriculture waste from Vanilla creepers supporting trees could be used to produce 5 megawatts of dendro power.

Vanilla International is already one of the largest exporter of cut flowers and they have grown nearly 50 acres of Vanilla in Kotmale. He said that he had forwarded a proposal in this regard to the then Government three years ago and there had been no response.

"This is why I decided to take the initiative and start this project on my own," he said.

He said that they have also commenced a farmer outgrower project in the area providing the villages the technical knowledge, branches and other assistance. Vanilla creeper when planted would give yields after two years and thereafter every nine months and the life expectancy of the tree is over 30 years.

One advantage would be that the tree only needs organic fertilizer. One tree could produce nearly a kilo of Vanilla, which would be purchased at around Rs. 1,000.

Research carried out have shown that taste of Vanilla produced in Sri Lanka is one of the best in the world and this would result in high returns at the international auctions.

The company will soon import machinery valued at over Rs. 50 million to do value addition to Vanilla seeds and re-export for higher prices.

He said that there are many tea estates that are running at a loss and if the Government can loan them, the land and finances he can make Vanilla as the number one foreign exchange earner from plantation exports.

 

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