[TAGDev Story] A Sweet, Rich, and Alluring Tale of a Vanilla Farmer in Central Uganda

Mounting up to 15m in length, with thick stems and greenish-to-yellow flowers, the orchard plant climbs and clings to host trees, displaying its long and thin pods of vanilla fruits. Blossoming in the warm climate, vanilla is one of the most important, high-value cash crops in central and western Uganda. This profitable crop is harvested twice a year, from June to July and December to January.

Growing up in a village where his family was primarily dependent on agriculture, Kawooya Joseph began engaging with farming communities at a young age, sharing experiences and learning from Farmers. This involvement fueled his desire to invest in agriculture, propelling him from providing farmers with extension services to launching his Vanilla trading business. Kawooya, a recent Gulu University graduate under the TAGDev scholarship, founded the Divine Vanilla Enterprise in Bukasa village, Wakiso District, Uganda. The company adds value to plain vanilla products. Kawooya, the CEO of this company, buys vanilla beans from farmers, processes them, and sells them to potential export companies.

While working as a data collection agent for Food Truck Uganda, an agricultural export company, Kawooya was urged to invest in vanilla by Isaac. The vanilla business was too lucrative to pass up, with a kilogram of raw vanilla selling for 250,000 shillings (66 dollars). With little knowledge and advice from Isaac, Kawooya began growing his vanilla on a small scale and connecting farmers to better markets.

As a scholar under the TAGDev program, Kawooya saved up some of his stipends, which he later used as start-up capital for his enterprise. Five years later, the capital has multiplied to be worth over 200,000 Million shillings (53,000$). Vanilla is a highly addictive and lucrative business that commands more than 532,500 Shillings (149$) per kilogram in 2022.

Working with farming communities and providing vanilla farmers with extension and advisory services increased the quantity and quality of vanilla Kawooya observed. Offering farmers higher prices for their harvested vanilla has allowed them to raise their living standards.

Leave a Reply

Please log in using one of these methods to post your comment:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: