Farmer cultivates 1,500 vanilla plants; will plant more to meet growing demand
BY OLIVER SAMSON
Manila Bulletin Publishing Corp
Sheena Tolentino Fideli tends to a total of 1,540 vanilla plants in Laguna. She foresees demand for both vanilla cuttings for propagation and cured vanilla beans for culinary use to rise in the coming years, so she and her family are planning to plant 9,000 more vines on their Vanilla Acres Gem farm. SHEENA Tolentino Fideli tends to a total of 1,540 vanilla plants in San Pablo, a first-class city in Laguna about 80 kilometers south of Manila. Fideli, 37, foresees demand for both vanilla cuttings for propagation and cured vanilla beans for culinary use to rise in the coming years, so she and her family are planning to plant 9,000 more vines on their Vanilla Acres Gem farm. VANILLA CAN MAKE MONEY PRIOR TO BEARING BEANS A kilo of cured vanilla beans, which contain the aromatic vanillin, could sell at P15,000, Fideli said. But the vines start producing beans, or pods, at the age of three to five years. Her vines are only about two years of age, not yet bearing flowers since they had been planted only in 2021. The beans contain the aromatic spice of vanillin — the main chemical compound extracted from the pods. In the first week of January this year, Fideli prepared 1,100 pieces of rooted vanilla cuttings for buyers in Candelaria, Quezon and Lipa, Batangas who were also interested in vanilla farming. She sells vanilla cuttings that have taken root in coconut husks at P500-P800 apiece. The farmer also sells cuttings that have not yet rooted that measure one foot in length at P350 apiece, and the same kind of cutting one meter in length at P700-800 apiece. She ships the cuttings in coconut husks when they are about three nodes tall, or more or less 15 inches in length. “I usually lower the price when the buyer negotiates,” Fideli said. “I observe rooted cuttings have more market because they have more chances of surviving than the ones that do not have roots yet.” Fideli had already sold no less than 4,000 vanilla cuttings since she started marketing propagation materials. She ships vanilla propagation materials to as far as Sultan Kudarat. She also dispatches cuttings to Palawan, Benguet, Isabela, Palawan, and other parts of the country. “A buyer in Quezon City who got cuttings from us in March 2022 is propagating them now at a condo,” she said.