I am from Mumbai, India, which is located on the coastal region of West India.
I have 3 queries:
1) Is Mumbai suitable enough to grow the BEST quality of Vanilla beans?
2) What is the minimum area suitable to grow Vanilla? Can it be cultivated in a small CONDUCIVE area at home?
3) Is it commercially viable? And, how much does it cost to buy the best quality cuttings to grow in India?
Nishit from Mumbai, India
I'll attempt to answer these one at a time:
1) Two types of vanilla beans-Tahitian and Bourbon-are widely grown for commercial use. Most of the vanilla grown in the world is grown within 20 degrees north of south of the equator. Like other members of the orchid family, vanilla grows best in partial shade in a temperate climate with high amounts of moisture and humidity. Mumbai lies 18.96º north of the equator and has a suitable climate for growing Vanilla.
2) Vanilla plants are creepers. They can be grown in a small amount of space if they are grown on upright supports.
3) Vanilla is commercially viable, but it's a very labor-intensive crop, which is why it's so expensive to grow. It takes three years after planting for the bean plants to flower. They need at least 9 months on the vine to develop and then another several weeks to months to cure properly before fully developing their flavor and scent. Prices on cuttings can vary. Here is a link to information on growing vanilla in India: http://www.indiamarkets.com/imo/.
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