Tongan vanilla growers form association

2013-12-10T00:00:00Z

<p style="text-align: justify;">The newly established Queen Vanilla Growers Association (Vava’u) Incorporated is a first for Tonga. <!--more--></p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">The association hopes to unite the growers in a bid to rehabilitate the largely ignored vanilla plantations in the region and boost exports of the rare commodity that has been seeing increasing demand all over the world. Ross Himstedt, Chairman of vanilla growing firm Queen Vanilla, formally inaugurated the association at a ceremony on October 10.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Queen Vanilla entered into a partnership with the people of Vava’u Island six months ago to help organize the industry and create a steady stream of supply to meet growing demand. The programme has had such a successful uptake that most vanilla growers on the island have joined with their eyes on a brighter future for the crop.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Ian Jones, the Queen Vava’u project manager said, “The programme now has 265 grower members and more than 1100 dependant families. It has really been beyond our expectations. Enthusiasm has been reinstated, and farms which nearly 6 months ago were just seen as jungle, are now on their way to being rehabilitated.”</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">At the meeting the members elected a 12-person board representing the vanilla growing regions of Vava’u. From the 12 people they elected Sione Lolohea of Tunauku as President.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">Mr Lolohea said he was honoured to represent the 265 Queen vanilla growers of Vava’u at such an exciting time for the vanilla industry.</p>
<p style="text-align: justify;">In a speech delivered to the group, Mr Himstedt said, “In 5 years’ time, Vava’u will be a different place, with a vibrant Vanilla industry”.</p>

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