HALF MADAGASCR’S VANILLA CROP WIPED OUT

CYCLONE Hudah destroyed half of Madagascar’s vanilla crop when it struck the country’s northeastern region earlier this month. Madagascar, the world’s leading vanilla producer, had expected to harvest some 1200 tons of the bean in the Sava region this year. But only 600 to 700 tons are likely to reach commercial markets in 2000, said Claude Andreas, president of the region’s vanilla producers and former agriculture minister. Andreas said that nearly 80% of the vanilla plantations in Antalaha, the world’s vanilla capital, and nearby Andapa were leveled, along with 20% to 30% of farms in the towns of Sambava and Vohemar. He estimated that it would take three years to rebuild damaged plantations and restore production to pre-cyclone levels.

END OF THE ROAD FOR UGANDA AIRLINES

STATE-RUN Uganda Airlines is laying off its entire staff after a bid to privatize it failed because of lack of interested investors. Dick Turinawe, Uganda Airlines Corporation chief executive, said that he has been authorised by the minister in charge of the privatisation, Manzi Tumubweine, to fire the cash-strapped airline’s remaining 84 employees. Seventy-two other employees were sacked last year in a cost-cutting measure ahead of the anticipated privatisation. The layoffs came days after South African Airlines, which Ugandan authorities hoped would buy Uganda Airlines, declined the offer.

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