29 Jan 2014

Tongan vanilla association to become Fairtrade

9:44 pm on 29 January 2014

The Queen Vanilla Growers Association in Vavau'u, Tonga says it will soon be independently certified by Fairtrade to ensure the protection of growers' rights.

The executive director, Ian Jones, says there has been a big problem in Tonga with overseas buyers forcing growers to take low prices for vanilla because they were not in a strong position to negotiate.

He says when the association formed last year, there were 25 growers actively growing vanilla - and now there are 287.

Mr Jones says those growers will now be able to collectively bargain with buyers and have more control.

"To ensure that we get a good price for our vanilla, we wanted to have fairtrade certification and organic certification to give the growers one, the confidence that they are being looked after properly, but also buyers around the world are very interested growers are being looked after properly."

Ian Jones says as part of being Fairtrade, it will also educate farmers on rules of land management and how to protect it from erosion and damage from livestock.