Aerial view of the multi-million kina vanilla project at Samagos agriculture station in Kiunga, North Fly District of Western Province.

A commercial agricultural partnership to develop vanilla farming in Kiunga, North Fly District of Western Province was launched on Friday 30 June by the National Minister for Agriculture and government dignitaries.

Communities in Kiunga witnessed the momentous occasion, with the grand opening of a state-of-the-art Agro Industrial Centre (AIC), signalling a new era of prosperity for the region.

This AIC, focussed on vanilla production, is an outcome of the 2018 to 2021 Western Provincial Development plan’s agribusiness pillar. It promises to be a transformative force, offering the people of Western Province economic opportunities that will span generations.

Speaking at the event was vanilla farmer Mrs Aijela Jerry from Tapko village in North Fly. She encouraged growers to plant Vanilla. “Plant vanilla, the factory is here, what more can you ask for, the market is made possible. Plant, harvest and come and sell, that’s it.”

Vanilla farmer Mrs. Aijela Jerry 

The official inauguration ceremony was held at the Samagos Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL) station in Kiunga, where stakeholders and community members came together to celebrate the occasion.

The future lies in agriculture

Speaking at the event, the Member for North Fly, Honourable James Donald, passionately called upon the communities of Western Province to embrace vanilla farming as a means to generate sustainable income for all. He emphasised that while the Ok Tedi Mine has been an important contributor, the future lies in agriculture, and the North Fly and Western Province communities should seize this opportunity for sustainable progress.

Member for North Fly, Honourable James Donald

The Vanilla AIC was the result of collaboration by OTML, Innovative Agro Industries (IAI) and Fly River Provincial Government (FRPG) through WestAgro Holdings and the support of OTDF. Minister for Agriculture, Honorable Aiye Tambua, commended the stakeholders and encouraged everyone to continue cultivating their land. He emphasised that the national government is now fully committed to the growth of the agriculture sector within the country.

Minister for Agriculture, Honorable Aiye Tambua and stakeholders launch the AIC

The Fly Vanilla project, which reached completion in June 2023, is an impressive venture, featuring a nursery demonstration plot and 14 greenhouses spanning an area of 2 hectares, all equipped with approximately 17,000 vines, growing in controlled settings.

The high-intensive greenhouse conditions, are projected to yield over 20 metric tons of premium vanilla beans annually, generating around K18 million from 2026 onwards for shareholders and smallholder farmers. This will have a significant positive impact on the local and national economy.

The opening of Fly Vanilla in Kiunga is a beacon of hope for the people of Western Province. As they embark on this journey of agricultural growth, they are poised to unlock immense potential and a brighter and more prosperous future for all. The collaborative spirit that brought this vision to life demonstrates the power of teamwork in fostering sustainable development through agriculture.

OTDF Media