By Baeau Tai

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Oct. 15) – The Papua New Guinea spice industry has reported a record K35.4 million in revenue earnings from vanilla exports for the first six months this year, up 54 percent over the 2002 figure of K23 million. 

The favorable earnings are a result of the current high vanilla prices, which is around K600 per kilogram. 

However, from January to June this year, the volume of export dropped to 57.4 tons this year as against last year's figure of 70 tons.

Senior spice officer with the Department of Agriculture and Livestock, Loius Abala said he believes the volume of vanilla exported could be more because some vanilla has been brought out of the country without being recorded.

Mr Abala said stealing of vanilla has "taken root" in many vanilla growing provinces like Central province and this is becoming a concern to the industry which wants to maintain the quality of vanilla. 

He said this problem could be minimized if only exporters would crosscheck with them on those who sell green beans. 

Concerns have also been raised in the past by some vanilla exporting agencies over illegal vanilla trade at the PNG-Indonesia border. 

Mr Abala said people involved in the illegal sale mix all the beans together and sell them at a price right "across the board". 

"They mix the A grade, B grade and C grade vanilla together ... what they should be doing is pricing them according to the grades," he said.

Meanwhile, Mr Abala was among other Government officials from the Trade and Industry Department and Central provincial government at Eboa village in Kairuku District who presented 114 certificates to vanilla growers of Mekeo last Monday. 

The growers ranging from youth to village councilors recently went through a weeklong workshop held at Inauaia village conducted by the PNG Spice Board.

Mr Abala said DAL was head on with providing technical information and advice from field production to planting, processing and marketing so that growers can produce high quality vanilla.

October 15, 2003

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