The Vanuatu Co-operative and Business Network (VCBN) along with its stakeholders officially launched a sale for pineapple farmers under the established ‘New Mafen Cooperative’ yesterday at the Vanuatu Co-operative Federation.
A great number of pineapple farmers – over 47 in total, reigning from Teoma bush and Erangorango in Efate showed up during the ceremony with over 5,000 pineapples, ready to be stored in the Federation’s warehouse.
Director of Co-operatives Ridley Joseph was amongst the small team who travelled to Teouma bush, to meet the diligent farmers and establish the New Mafen Co-operative on December 7 last year.
In his speech, he declared the aim of the VCBN is to restore the Co-operatives and implement a secure network of diligent farmers.
“This is a message to all tourism industries,” he said, “we must start importing locally.”
Director of Agriculture, Antoine Ravo said pineapple is a “drought-tolerant crop which can grow anywhere that is tropical”.
From 92 varieties around Vanuatu, the Agricultural Department only recommends two varieties to be planted and sold towards the Co-operative, the Perola pineapple and the Hawaiian or Smooth Cayenne.
“We’re not focusing on just pineapples but other commodities as well, in which we’ll work until we sustain production to an extent of reaching exports.” Mr Ravo explained.
Director General for Trade, Tourism and Industry, Roy Mickey Joy was pleased with the outcome between Farmers and the VCBN member board.
“We are witnesses to a ceremony which exhibits our locally grown products.
“Every year the Government through Finance spends a lot of money by calling in foreign imports, what the Co-operative and Ministry of Agriculture is trying to implement through VCBN is to show that Vanuatu has the capability and capacity to produce commodities ourselves.
“We must stop imports coming overseas from New Zealand, Australia and even China, since onions, potatoes, pineapples are very simple to grow.”
Pineapples weighing 4.9kilos are on the market for Vt640. Moreover, a buyer has paid Vt1,500 for over seven pineapples, in contrast to market sales, this is the best price and profit any farmer can agree on.
VCBN General Manager Jack Loughman voiced an appeal to all existing pineapple farmers from across the islands of Vanuatu to be a part of the main market stream.
Pineapple sales are included with VAT (Value-Added Tax) contributions.