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Papua New Guinea

Vanilla farming can economically empower B’villeans: Korokoro

BY PATRICK MAKIS

Vanilla, as a cash crop, has the potential to economically empower Bougainvilleans and can yield high returns for growers over a short span of time, says a Bougainvillean agriculturist.

This has prompted him to actively promote the farming of vanilla in Central Bougainville.

Chris Korokoro has been running a series of trainings for farmers in Central Bougainville starting last year which has seen him using his own resources and some support from Bougainville Copper Limited to implement the workshops.

In an interview with the Post-Courier, Mr Korokoro said he was pushing for vanilla cultivation as the crop was easy to manage by family units and had the potential to raise the standard of living of people through the earnings from the sale of dried high grade vanilla.

“My objective is to raise the standard of living of my people through promoting high organic vanilla which can fetch good prices and thus empower families to meet the basic necessities in life through their earnings.

“Vanilla is a cash crop that doesn’t require high capital input but needs proper training or understanding of the plant, and its cultivation, processing and marketing requirements.

“Currently the main emphasis is being placed on Cocoa, Coconut (Copra) and mining as industries to boost the Bougainville economy.

“New cash crops need to be introduced and promoted like Vanilla, in this case, which has the potential to economically empower the rural people.

“The government and leaders must understand the basic needs of our people and use practical interventions to address these issues like promoting alternative cash crops like vanilla which has the potential to provide high earnings for the farmers.”

Mr Korokoro explained that since last year he had been visiting wards and community government areas mainly in South and North Nasioi and running trainings on vanilla cultivation and also covering topics on processing, curing and the marketing aspects of vanilla.

“I am also working in close consultation and with the assistance of Mauang Exports, who is now one of the major buyers of vanilla in Bougainville and so my trainings are tailored to ensure that farmers understand the processing and the importance of producing quality organic vanilla for the international markets.

We are talking about the whole vanilla value chain here,” he said.

“A grade vanilla is currently being bought at K700 per kilogram in Arawa.

I know a couple of farmers who are now earning K2,000 to K3,000 a fortnight from their vanilla and that is the type of money we want our families to be earning to support their basic needs.”

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