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By Nikints Tiptip

PORT MORESBY, Papua New Guinea (The National, Mar. 6) – Papindo’s vanilla-buying unit Intec Trading in Lae has indefinitely closed its doors after being blamed for causing the decline in the quality of vanilla produced in the province.

Steven Mesa of the Department of Agriculture and Livestock recently blamed Papindo's Intec Trading for buying vanilla beans even if they were of poor quality, resulting to a drop in prices.

The trader became the biggest buyer of vanilla beans in Lae after Agmark stop trading on vanilla last year.

Intec Trading, which has been operating in Lae since 2003, catered to farmers at Situm and other parts of Morobe but the company has big suppliers in Wewak and Maprik.

Amos Kia of Intec Trading told farmers Intec Trading has decided not to buy anymore due to depressed vanilla price.

Mr Kia said because Papindo has a long term commitment in Morobe province, it has continued to buy from farmers especially at Situm despite the price drop just to provide farmers source of income.

"Intec Trading has operated in Lae to provide farmers market for their beans and if they have a new buyer like Mr Mesa had claimed, they are free to go," he said.

Meanwhile, at a workshop two weeks ago at Situm outside Lae, Mr Mesa had again told farmers that buyers and exporters who did not have farms should not represent farmers on the PNG Spice Council.

This was the second time Mr Mesa had blamed Intec Trading for misleading the industry.

To protect its image, the company decided to close its doors to vanilla farmers, Papindo managing director, Sir Soekandar Tjandra, said yesterday.

He said in light of continuous negative reporting against the company, it has now stopped buying vanilla at its Lae office until such time the issue is resolved between the concerned parties.

Northern regional director of the Department of Agriculture and Livestock Masayan Moat said the tone of Mr Mesa's comments were "inbad taste".

Mr Moat said Mr Mesa had left DAL and is now attached to the European Union projects in the province and his comments did not necessarily represent DAL's stand on the issue.

However, Mr Moat said growing vanilla is different from buying and one cannot mix them together.

Mr Moat said in the case of Situm farmers, they cannot export directly like the way Intec does if they lack capital, don't have market base overseas and don't have a constant supply of export quality vanilla.

Mr Moat said overseas markets are offering good prices but PNG does not have the quality right now to command good prices in the world market.

Meanwhile, an officer from the National Agriculture and Research Institute said their job is only to do research to come up with better quality beans and pass it onto farmers.

How the farmers sell their produce and deal with their buyers is outside of their jurisdiction, he said.

March 7, 2005

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