VANILLA farmers in Morobe province are getting a good deal from selling raw vanilla beans to Niugini Coffee, Tea & Spice Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Mainland Holdings (MHL) group of companies.
The fresh beans, when delivered within seven days of harvest, are paid K3.50 a kilogram and K6 a kilogram if it was cured.
“It doesn’t make much difference. In effect, it is more economical to sell green beans,” a Markham farmer said.
The company discourages traditional vanilla curing method that takes six to eight months, the general manager of Coffee Division Alyosha Reilly said.
He said the company was interested in buying vanilla planifolia beans – the broad leaved variety.
And he said growers from Nawaeb, Markham, Menyamya, Bulolo and Huon districts are earning as much for the quality they produce.
But hundreds of growers from Kabwum, Wasu and Finschhafen lack access to markets as there are no roads and airstrips, making it difficult to market their produce.
“I’m encouraging the growers to tidy up their farms, pollinate their plants on time, harvest and bring the beans but leave the curing and processing task to us,” he said.
The company also has the “ultimate sustainability and extension programmes that enrich rural farmers”, he said.
He said Mainland was a village-based company and its priority was to support and improve villagers’ existing farms and projects to sustain their livelihoods through coffee and vanilla farming.
“The value and quality of the produce is recognised elsewhere in Europe and US markets that we’re trying to maintain its stability to pave way for the certification programme,” he said.
The certification programme would guarantee farmers to sell their produce overseas, he added.
The company deals with and promotes organic farming, rainforest alliance and fair trade practices under the certification programme for both vanilla and coffee, he said.
Vanilla extension programme officers Jerry Marawong and Johnny Napo work tirelessly with villagers to sustain the value of the crop.