. The development partners WestAgro Holdings (WAH), and Innovative Agro Industries (IAI). They were working in partnership with the Western Provincial Administration (WPA).
Representatives from each organisation included the Deputy Provincial Administrator for Resource Development, Rupert Tabua, Eitan Ribak, Fly Vanilla Project Manager and WestAgro Chairman Ian Middleton.
The farmers were informed that Fly Vanilla Agro-Industrial Centre in Samagoes and Kiunga will begin buying vanilla beans from May 2022.
A 26-year-old vanilla farmer from Gesuke village, Helena Ogat was overjoyed with the visit.
“I am originally from Smipen in the mountains of Nomad LLG. I am very happy for the visit as it gives me more knowledge in vanilla farming.”
For her family, vanilla has been their source of survival since 2015. She said limitations are usually knowledge in producing high quality yield and the inconsistency of middlemen buyers and fees charged.
The field visit enabled the agro development partners to better understand the current status of out-grower vanilla cultivation and the challenges farmers are facing. This will allow for future extension services, improved cultivation techniques, and block farmer registration.
Mr Middleton explained to the farmers and interested community members that the intention of WAH is to develop sustainable agribusiness practices to ensure there is a socio-economic future for Western Province beyond mine closure. This starts with Fly Vanilla and the opportunity to improve production, bean quality and the current, low quality reputation of the PNG vanilla industry.
The WestAgro Master Plan was approved by the OTDF Board and complements the Western Province Provincial Governments 5-year (2018-2022) provincial development pillar to support agribusiness and enabling infrastructure, through which Fly Vanilla is being developed.