S.T.E.C. takes charge of vanilla export drive
PR - The Samoa Trust Estate Corporation (S.T.E.C) is now in charge of a renewed initiative to develop vanilla as Samoa’s next viable agricultural export.
“It’s a daunting task but after this week’s eye opening revelation from our Auckland based Equagold Vanilla Company’s founders that there is huge potential, STEC with her government stakeholders that includes the Ministries of MCIL, MPMC and MAF will spare no expense in working with our vanilla society to develop and implement a viable and sustainable pathway that will provide a win-win equation for farmers and overseas stakeholders,” says Patea Loli Malo Setefano, STEC’s Chief Executive Officer.
“Realistically, the vanilla export initiative needs to be government driven if we are to accomplish the mission to open up more and more export markets for Samoan farmers.
“For the proposed revival to move forward, we will be submitting our recommendations to Cabinet for government to take lead by requesting the necessary technical and financial assistance for vanilla exports to become a real reality.
“At this point, I am fully aware that there are a lot of grey areas but with the right framework and our government stakeholders uniting, any unforeseen hick-ups can be resolved.”
Patea noted that from the commercial farmers’ response this week, the road for Samoa’s vanilla to stake a foothold in the profitable vanilla export competition has just started. “This is the beginning of a long journey,” noted the STEC boss. “But not to be discouraged, I am confident that STEC and our partners are in for the long haul.
“For instance, pollination over the years remains a massive headache for growers and remains a detrimental factor which has discouraged many of our local vanilla growers,” he continued. “Bur with Equagold on board the tentative plan is for Ross and Diane Appleton (Equadgold Vanilla owners) to assist by assigning one of their partners from Papua New Guinea with the experience and know how to come here and train our local workers.
“There is also the option to recruit the services of Faiumu Faimafili Notoa, Samoa’s best vanilla grower to share his wealth of pollination experience with STEC employees and any interested grower.
“While STEC will provide the labour force, the Nu’u scientists will continue their research for a natural pollinator for vanilla. There is only one in the world – the Melipona bee – which is only found in South America. All other vanilla farms in the world are pollinated by hand.
“And from the latest information, the Melipona bee is not environmentally friendly to Samoa.”
Nonetheless, Patea is confident that armed with the Cabinet’s rubber stamp, pieces of the puzzle will come together to realise it targets.
“At the end of the day, it’s not about the government collecting the rewards and the credit. “It’s all about families who depend on vanilla for a living afforded the opportunities to earn a decent income to improve their livelihood and way of life,” he said.
“It’s about opening opportunities for our people and if it means tapping into government resources for the greater good, than as our Prime Minister has time and again reaffirmed, Who can argue with that?”