World-class vanilla discovered in Simbu

Editorial, Normal

The National, Tuesday 10th January 2012

KARIMUI area of Simbu province has been found by experts to be the place where high quality and world-class vanilla is currently grown.
Primary Industry principal advisor Damien Toki said the vanilling content or aroma of Karimui-produced vanilla was 24.5% compared to 17% of vanilling content produced by Madagascar in Africa, which is today’s leading world vanilla producer.
Toki said the size of the vanilla bean from Karimui was 24cm to 30cm long, while the normal size was usually less than 20cm.
He said since the crop was first introduced to the Karimui plateau in the early 1990s, the people had quickly realised the economic benefits of the crop and had expanded their production.
Toki said that Highlands Vanilla Ltd based in Goroka, Eastern Highlands, was the main market where vanilla was bought at K20/kg.
“Best grown in humid temperatures, vanilla also grows in lowlands of Kerowagi, Chuave and the Wara Simbu areas of the province,” he said.
He said his division was in the process of spending K100, 000 on a fermentary and farmers’ training in Karimui.
“If world-class vanilla can be produced in Simbu, my division is equally duty-bound to facilitate and promote bigger production and provide training for quality control.
“Next year, such training would be provided at other vanilla growing areas of the province,” Toki said.
The crop shot to world prominence in the 1990s when it was wiped out by a hurricane in Madagascar.
PNG vanilla fetched up to K700 per kilo premium beans and farmers everywhere rushed to plant the new crop.
Prices had stabilised now and the Madagascar crop was back but the window of opportunity for PNG growers had remained.