The new Queen Fine Foods Tongan vanilla rehabilitation initiative that is working with local grower families has been inspected by the King of Tonga, Tupou VI, who recently visited the island group of Vava'u.
While touring to view the local products at the annual agriculture show, King Tupou VI took the opportunity to visit a vanilla plantation and meet with several vanilla growers. His Majesty was interested to find out details and the progress being made with the new vanilla programme, which offers growers financial support to reclaim their dormant vines and restore them back to productive levels.
Queen is sharing the latest sustainable farming techniques; assisting growers to cure their own beans and helping them achieve Organic Certification for their plantations. In addition, growers are being offered a sustainable direct supply partnership with Queen which ensures ongoing future income.
Ian Jones, who represents Queen Fine Foods in Vava’u, said that His Majesty’s visit to the plantation was very well received by the growers. King Tupou VI could see first-hand all the work that had gone into restoring the vanilla and encouraged the growers to work hard to rehabilitate and maintain their vanilla.
Mr Jones said, “This programme will help to reinvigorate the Tongan vanilla industry. Up until three months ago, around 90 per cent of the vanilla plantations were lying dormant in the jungle. Today, more than 90 per cent of the plantations and their growers are part of the programme and are actively working to reclaim their plantations with the assistance of Queen. Queen is looking forward to building a strong sustainable relationship with the growers of Vava’u for many years to come.”
The vanilla grown through this partnership will be harvested around mid-2014 and used in the products Queen Fine Foods sells throughout New Zealand, Australia and Europe.