HERALD WEEKLY ISSUE 642: 14 November 2012

Vanilla a potential income booster

On Rarotonga, the fledging vanilla growing industry appears to have three distinct levels. Land constraints mean that size is relative with what’s considered a large growing set up to have a 1,000 or more plants, a medium size grower 200-500 plants and a small grower under 100 plants.
The Herald has already reported on two large Vanilla growing operations, that of Teariki Matenga in Titikaveka -1,000 plants, and that of Sepa Tangimetua who has a 1,000 plant operation in Vaimaanga (Kiriau Turepu is planning to plant 1,200 plants), a medium sized operation, Sam Crocombe-250 plants (June Baudinet reportedly has a 500 plant operation) and now the Herald takes a look at a small operator, Henry Tupa who last year planted 80 vanilla plants at his Tupapa home.
Tupa told the Herald he started off with 50 plants donated by Teariki Matenga. He admits he knows little about vanilla growing and says he is just following the advice being given by the Ministry of Agriculture.
Tupa’s plants are planted in a single row, under shade cloth with posts supporting one, sometimes two vanilla plants. It will be two more years before they flower says Tupa.
The sides are open and the overhead shade is set quite high compared to Matenga’s set up.
Some of Tupa’s plants are now around a metre high and he plans to increase the number by bending some of them down to root and produce new shoots.
He is unsure at this early stage whether he will harvest the green beans for sale as Matenga plans to do or carry on through to the more lucrative stage of harvesting the brown vanilla extract from the pods.
Whatever he decides, the returns will certainly boost his family’s income. Tupa currently holds down a full time job, operates a small shop and also a laundry service.
While green beans currently fetch around $25 a kilo on the Tahiti market, the brown vanilla extract can fetch over $300 a kilo.
Tupa said he plans to expand his vanilla operation into an area currently taken up by noni trees. He plans to plant vanilla between the rows of noni trees which he will cut back to near ground level where he will allow them to re-grow.

Herald Issue 608 21 March
- Terms of one China Policy document should be reviewed
- Pacific Media Assistance Scheme Seeks Innovation
- Successful NZ visit by PM
- Rerekura Teaurere New Climate Change Coordinator
- News Briefs

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