Group of vanilla growers, both male and female, sitting and standing among the trees

Vanilla growers practice organic farming for sustainable production and economic growth

Cover image: Participants in Phase 2 training, Cultivation of Vanilla, in Vava’u

Tonga Skills is partnering with the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Forestry (MAFF) in Vava’u to conduct follow up training on Vanilla Pollination skills development.  The focus is on inspecting the harvest outcomes following the previous training to improve the long-term sustainability of this high-value product.

Vanilla growers from the outer islands, MAFF staff and other stakeholders toured three main vanilla plantation sites to observe environmentally friendly farming practices that promote better yields from plantations.

Mr 'Iloa Piu at vanilla plantation site, standing beside a vanilla tree. He is wear a large, brown hat.

Image: Mr. ‘Iloa Piu, Vanilla plantation site in Holonga Village

MAFF Officer in Charge – Vava’u Branch, Mrs Leody Vainikolo, said “Vanilla is a highly valued crop for cultivation because it can be grown organically as it does not require pesticides.”

There is growing demand for organic produce within the region and Tonga Skills is supporting MAFF to ensure that Tongan farmers have the skills to maximise these economic opportunities.

“It is a sustainable long term and high value crop that does not harm the environment but enhance good farming practices for Vava’u and Tonga” she said.

An on-site visit to Holonga village where Mr ‘Iloa Piu  encourage Vanilla growers to use proper methods of preparing the vanilla tree. “A Vanilla tree needs very little exposure to sunlight.  Keep the base of the tree moist and trim the branches for a quality fruit outcome.” ‘Iloa is preparing to harvest at least 500kg of vanilla beans in late April this year.