Local staff planting vanilla in the quarantine tunnel

After three years of project planning, research and development, and 18-months of site construction at the Samagoes Agro Industrial Centre (AIC), the Fly Vanilla project has moved into the production phase. A first of the large-scale agribusinesses being developed under the WestAgro Master Plan has now come to reality.

This project milestone was marked by the arrival of 4,600 vanilla cuttings. These vines were procured from Sepik farmers and flown from Wewak into Kiunga on the 17th October.  4,451 (3% loss in transit) vines have since been planted into a quarantine tunnel with controlled conditions for initial growth and plant monitoring, before distribution to grow-out tunnels.

Eitan Ribak, the AIC farm Manager stated that the vines will be in the quarantine tunnel for the next 6 weeks. Once ready for transplanting, each of the seven grow-out tunnels at site #2 will each be planted with 500 vines. Within each tunnel, the best possible growing conditions will be simulated, including fertigation and misting. Each tunnel is fitted with irrigation lines and state of the art misting nozzles that enable optimum growth within a highly intensive growing environment.

Ian Middleton, the WestAgro Holdings Chair was delighted to announce the arrival of these first vines, heralding the beginning of the operations phase of the project, and moving one-step closer to realising a sustainable ‘green’ future for Western Province beyond Ok Tedi mine closure.

 Vanilla market at Samagoes, Kiunga

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Kiunga Agro Industrial Center, site 2 tunnels

OTDF Program Services & Sustainable Department Manager Andrew Mari said, “This is a milestone for OTDF and the whole Western Province, as it opens market opportunities for people in the province to earn from planting, growing and selling vanilla.”

Vanilla is the focus of the Kiunga AIC in the North Fly, with state of the art vanilla processing capability and local farmer support, aiming to significantly improve the quality of vanilla beans processed under the Fly Vanilla brand. Fly Vanilla has already purchased more than 47 kilos of beans from local farmers and the interest in preparing and planting blocks is growing significantly each month.

Through the WestAgro Holdings partnership with the Innovative Agro Industry (IAI), international buyers (with a particularly strong market in the United States of America) are ready and waiting on the production of beans.

OTDF Media