The start of the vanilla season kicked off this week with a rush into the deep green countryside of SAVA with bag fulls of cash. The buzz in Sambava and Antalaha has infused the air and the hotels have filled up with foreigners anxious for news of the start of the 2018 gold rush.
Farmers still collect taxless cash in exchange for vanilla, with some communities donating or trading tons of green beans in exchange for commodities and medicines and food security, wisened to the perils of an overfocus on one non-feeding crop after the last year. The taxes, bureaucracy, and headaches continue to mount meanwhile for exporters, pushing prices likely higher along the whole chain, at least at first.
Vanilla companies in SAVA have all sent their collectors into the bush, and the suspense to see what and who will come back, at what price and if stolen or stopped, is high on everyone’s mind this month.