Pilot scale cultivation and production of Vanilla planifolia in the United Arab Emirates

Khalil Ur Rahman1, Mohamed Khalifa Bin Thaleth1, George Mathew Kutty1, Ramachandran Subramanian2
1 Al Nakhli Management, Dubai Hatta Road, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
2 Birla Institute of Technology and Science, Department of Biotechnology, Pilani, Dubai campus, PO Box 345055, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Abstract

Rahman, K., Thaleth, M. K. B., Kutty, G. M. & Subramanian, R. (2019). Pilot scale cultivation and production of Vanilla planifolia in the United Arab Emirates. Bulgarian Journal of Agricultural Science, 25 (6), 1143–1150

Vanilla planifolia is cultivated in the tropical climate and primarily grown in Madagascar, Indonesia, China and Mexico. Pilot-scale cultivation of V. planifolia was trialed under greenhouse conditions in the United Arab Emirates. V. planifolia cuttings were obtained from India and it was grown through vegetative propagation. The cuttings of 50 cm long were planted in the soil-compost substrate at 4:1 ratio and irrigated with freshwater (water salinity 263 µS/cm). Every three months plant-based compost was added at a rate of 4 kg m-2. The height of the vanilla plant was maintained at 1.5 m and vines were supported by galvanized pipes covered by ropes. The manual pollination method was carried out upon blooming. Pods were harvested manually when the tip turned light brown. Mature pods were graded, blanched, dried and packaged. 20 kg fresh pods obtained from the ten vanilla plants produced 4 kg processed and dried pods after curing by blanching and drying. V. planifolia production method reported under the controlled environment can be adopted to cultivate vanilla in other parts of UAE and GCC nations.

Keywords: vanilla; vanillin; sub-tropical environment; crop diversification

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