Cook Islands Looking To Support Vanilla Growing Operations

No farmers have yet applied for new loan scheme

By Losirene Chand 

RAROTONGA, Cook Islands (Cook Islands News, July 14, 2016) – Ministry of Agriculture and Business Trade Investment Board (BTIB) are working hard to encourage vanilla farmers and those interested in growing the crop in the future, to make use of the Cook Islands government’s Vanilla Business Support Fund. 

The move follows revelations that no-one in the Cook Islands has applied for the loan scheme despite it being advertised in the local media.

A meeting was held at the agriculture office in Arorangi yesterday. Eight keen vanilla growers attended, together with Agriculture secretary Matairangi Purea, vanilla consultant Teariki Matenga and BTIB representative Plitz Napa.

Matenga said that last week he had held a meeting with the ministry and BTIB representatives regarding the lack of applications for funding.

“For several reasons no one applied for the funding and so we think there are hindrances and difficulties in applying for the funds. Yesterday’s meeting looked at ways for us to work together and find solutions to make it easier for vanilla growers to make use of this fund.”

Matenga said as a consultant in the industry, he was available to help answer any questions that might be raised by growers.

 “It is a new initiative that government has been looking into for years. This funding will help the growers and will be huge assistance for an industry that could boost the Cook Islands economy in the near future,” he said.

Matenga said it was vitally important for the farmers to make use of the funding. BTIP representative Plitz Napa said the issue may have been that growers did not understand the criteria.

He said it was important to know that BTIB had not come up with the criteria, which was there to basically make people understand the funds were not actually a grant but a loan and that the fund aimed to make sure that the project would be ongoing.

Secretary agriculture Matairangi Purea said the grower meeting had been organised to help explain the loan system in greater detail, as some of the issues involved were not clear to most growers.

“Agriculture’s part is to answer questions that are raised on management of the vanilla crop and the other aim of the meeting was to reveal more information on the six to eight shade houses that are being ordered by BTIB for the project,” Matairangi said.  

He encouraged passionate farmers thinking about growing vanilla to see that the crop really was a revenue-making venture. He said in this crop one needs to be seriously commit itself 98 to 100 per cent and the ministry will provide technical guidance and marketing strategies.

Cook Islands News
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