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Fiji Time: 6:56 AM on Thursday 17 April

/ Front page / Business

Hope for vanilla industry

Ropate Valemei
Tuesday, December 11, 2012

SPICES of Fiji Limited is fighting for the survival of the vanilla industry in Fiji. And it has turned to government for assistance in keeping this viable export commodity alive.

The company's operations manager George Hazelman said they were reaping $250,000 from vanilla exports and this could be increased ten-fold if the Department of Agriculture focused its efforts on making vanilla (dried beans) one of the country's main export commodities.

"We used to export five tonnes of dried beans in the past but now it's only 200 to 300 kilograms of dried beans," Mr Hazelman said.

He said this industry was dying slowly and it needed the right support for it to develop further.

"There are a lot of vanilla farmers in Fiji but they just need to be supported by the department like other crops in Fiji."

"This is a universal commodity because all the people in the world use vanilla. This is a high value, low volume crop."

He said the department received a budget of $80,000 for the vanilla industry last year and this was distributed to the 14 districts in Fiji. "There are enough farmers in the country but they needed to be visited," Mr Hazelman said.

He said vanilla pods were found all over some farms but were not harvested because of the lack of resources and support from the department.

According to the 2013 Budget announcement, $5.6m was allocated for the department's existing programmes next year. The allocation is expected to cover the development of vanilla, coconut, cocoa, potato, ginger and rice crops.

Meanwhile, Agriculture Department's extension services director, Uraia Waibuta said vanilla was under the budget for the cottage industry this year.

"The vanilla is with the traditional package that has high value like masi, voivoi and other things and $100,000 was allocated for this," Mr Waibuta said.

He said the aim was to encourage women to continue production in the cottage business.