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It is indigenous to wet low land forests in South-Eastern Mexico, Guatemala and other parts of Central America. Vanilla being an orchid crop responds very well to organic inputs. The pests and diseases identified in vanilla cultivation are very limited and can be easily controlled by botanicals. There is great potential to cultivate vanilla organically.

In India, Vanilla is a new crop which leads to certain specific bottlenecks like paucity of good quality planting material, lack of appropriate technology for growing and processing of vanilla, market information and research efforts. The hand pollination method and cumbersome processing of beans demands expertise which only few farmers have access to. It is necessary to look into various constraints in vanilla production before drawing up a strategy for development.


Vanilla is most subjected to competition from imperfect substitutes (low-cost artificial flavourings). Four types of substitutes exist to date, viz., synthetic vanillin, ethyl vanillin, other natural flavours and Tissue culture products. With the advent of chemical technology to produce vanillin/ethyl vanillin, the synthetic substitutes have taken over the use of vanilla beans.

The high unit flavour price of natural vanilla has made it one of the targets for competition from genetic engineering firms in the food and flavour industry. Some firms in USA claim to have reached an important milestone in the phyto-production process called immobilised cell culture or hollow-fibre system with cells from vanilla beans. But synthetic vanillin has a heavy and grassy odour with less agreeable aftertaste. Despite these disadvantages, synthetic vanillin is much used in the United States and other countries because of its very low price. However, as the synthetic flavours are inferior, there has always remained a demand for the vanilla beans.

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