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Thursday, 25 April, 2002, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Vanilla sweetens profits for Indian farmers
Harvesting time on an India farm
Traditional crops have been declining in value
Indian farmers are increasingly turning to vanilla cultivation as the price of traditional crops such as rubber and coffee continues to decline.

Farmers are not replacing their existing crops, but are more likely to 'intercrop' - when more than one commodity is grown in the same field at the same time.

The Spices Board of India has been encouraging farmers to take advantage of growing demand for vanilla since the early 1990s.

Their campaign has been particularly successful in the southern states of Kerala, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu.

Ideal conditions

The climatic conditions ideal for growing coconuts are similar to those needed for vanilla cultivation.

It is also possible to cultivate vanilla on rubber or coffee plantations, but tea growing regions are unsuitable.

Koshy John, director of the Spices Board of India, told the BBC's World Business report there is strong demand for vanilla in Europe and the US, especially organic varieties.

"Everybody wants organic products and vanilla is a crop which can be grown very easily on organic land," he said.

Madagascar and Indonesia are currently the world's biggest suppliers of vanilla.

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Koshy John, Director of the Spices Board of India
"Vanilla can be used as an intercrop on existing plantations"
See also:

24 Jul 00 | Health
Vanilla patch 'cures sweet tooth'
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