The harvest of noni fruit to process noni juice, capsules and two other noni products at the noni plantation and factory at Velit Bay, East Santo has commenced.
Prime Minister Charlot Salwai witnessed this development in his visit to the noni plantation last weekend.
The Prime Minister was told that there are currently 150,000 noni plants at the Velit Bay plantation but the factory is not utilised to its full capacity because 150,000 plants is still too small.
To address this issue, the Waike Group - a Chinese company which manages the plantation - is now sharing free noni seedlings to farmers on Santo.
Government Public Relations Officer, Hillarie Bule says the Waike Group plans to establish its centers on other islands to buy noni as well as buy a ship to transport noni to the factory at Velit Bay.
Currently there are 60,000 noni seedlings in the nursery at Velit Bay. These will also be distributed to interested farmers.
The government PRO said the price of noni on the market is better than copra. He pointed out that while the people of Vanuatu plant kava and copra there is no factory for both commodities in Vanuatu whereas in this case there are two noni factories in the country – one at Velit Bay, Santo and the other at Rentapao, Efate.
Mr Bule says with China’s huge population there is a lucrative market for noni products. Noni plants grow well throughout the islands in Vanuatu and a noni plant bears its fruit just after a year and three months.
A farmer can plant at least 1,000 noni plants on a hectare of land.
The Waike Group is also interested in buying nambagura fruits. In related news, some people went to the noni plantation last year and destroyed 1,200 noni plants. The incident has been reported to the police in Luganville.
This is not the PM’s visit to the noni plantation in Santo. He made a similar visit with former Minister of Agriculture Matai Seremaiah in February 2018.