15 May 2014

Tonga Vanilla collective aims to produce world class product

9:26 am on 15 May 2014

An association representing vanilla growers in Tonga believes it's not far off from claiming the world's best vanilla status.

The Queen Vanilla Growers Association in Vava'u was formed last year to represent farmers and negotiate fair prices.

Fairtrade officers from New Zealand and Australia have recently held seminars for vanilla growers in Vava'u explaining the basic principles of collective bargaining.

The executive director, Ian Jones, says by working together the industry can operate at a profitable and sustainable level.

He says growers are also getting training on things like curing methods to ensure their vanilla is of a high quality.

"Queen Fine Foods in Australia told me just recently that the vanilla they bought from us from last year's production was the best they've purchased in the last two years and equal best ever. Now all we've go to do is get all the growers producing it to that same level and I believe within two to three years we'll be able to claim world's best vanilla status."

Ian Jones says the association now has 297 members, supporting at least 1400 family members.