Feb 25, 2018 Last Updated 5:27 AM, Feb 19, 2018

JACKSSON Kalses describes himself as a small-time farmer in east Efate, the island in which Port Vila, the national capital of Vanuatu sits. From the income he gets from his vegetable farm of mainly cabbage, tomato and beans, Kalses provides for his young family including his three children who currently attend elementary school. “I have up to five hectares of land but I only farm about one hectare of that,” Kalses tells me.

“I’ve been farming for the last two to three years now, selling mostly to supermarkets and to the Central Market in Port Vila sometimes. I also do sell some vegetables to Iririki Island Resort, but I’m not a big supplier.” As if reading my mind, Kalses didn’t wait for my next question as he remarked: “My biggest problem is water. During the off-season, I am unable to grow many vegetables due to lack of rain.

“This usually happens during the months of August to December every year....

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Vanuatu beef is premium

SHORTAGE of Vanuatu’s premium beef has prompted the island government to embark on an ambitious re-stocking programme that hopes to see the doubling of heads of cattle in eight years. With total cattle heads currently standing at 230,000, the Livestock Department of Vanuatu’s Ministry of Agriculture aims to grow this to 500,000 heads of cattle by 2025. First phase of the re-stocking programme, which was launched by the previous government of then Prime Minister Moana Carcases in 2012 cost the island’s taxpayers VU$30million (US$274,445).

Cattle farmers were encouraged to increase their cattle numbers w i t h t h e national government offering to subsidise the cost of buying new cattle. National government offered to pay 50 per cent of the cost as well as transportation of the animals. “It was an expensive exercise but the new government continued with the programme as it was committed to addressing beef shortage in Vanuatu,” explains Lee Bong, Livestock Director of the ministry of agriculture.

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Pods of gold

New flavour offer for choco industry as Vanuatu cashes in

ON Malo Island in Vanuatu, Moli Lui observed in silence as the formalities of greetings and introductions took place to welcome a trade delegation of international cocoa buyers. When the theologian was finally invited to address the visitors, there was no mistaking the enthusiasm with which he spoke about his newfound interest in cocoa farming.

In the minutes that followed, Lui had impressed the buyers enough who, after sampling some of his dried cocoa beans, asked to purchase the sack of beans and have its contents divided among them. The trip to the island was part of a trade visit organised by the Pacific Horticultural and Agricultural Market Access (*PHAMA) Program which is funded by the Australian and New Zealand governments.

The visit aimed to establish trade relations between international cocoa buyers and local farmers, producers and exporters as well as government stakeholders in Vanuatu’s cocoa industry. The trade delegation comprised chocolate makers Greg D’Alesandre of Dandelion Chocolate in the United States of America, Karl Hogarth of Hogarth Chocolates in New Zealand, Peter Channells and Li Peng Monroe of Jasper and Myrtle in Australia and cocoa buyer Mathieu Bours from Le Cercle du Cacao in Belgium. 

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I MET a fascinating business woman this week, and she doesn’t much want to be identified, just to let people know of her products. It’s the sort of occupation which has since forever engrossed the natives of the highest Italian Alps as summer faded from the horizon. Turning the fragrances of the romantic months into an aroma which reminds the people there of the now passed happier times helps the citizenry endure the long and chilly dark days and nights to come.

I’ll let her tell her own story ... “My little project started in June 2015 when visiting some of my family in Italy and discovering how a particular scent could typify a village or a community. I felt it a shame we have nothing like it in Vanuatu, especially given all the redolent and sweet smelling scents we are always exposed to around the islands. And whilst I was on an island in Tuscany I met parfumiers and started exploring the different combinations of scents and how they could be produced from the top notes to the bottom notes and essential oils that really make the recipes work.

“I knew we could make a perfumery work in Vanuatu. We have! “I undertook work with professional perfumiers getting advice from everyone in the business and exploring the fragrances I knew from my years in the islands. Friends and family assisted this voyage into the unknown. 

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Unity the key for Vanuatu

LAST month’s Vanuatu report in these pages saw the Kalsakau Opposition ready to stymie the Salwai Coalition Government. However, in the wake of a Chief Justice ruling which declared the parliamentary sitting termination by the Opposition “a disaster”, the Constitutional Review Committee begins its first sitting next week.

Constitutional review is what caused the ructions a month ago. And the Leader of the Opposition will be on the new committee. Working together presently seems to be the order of the day. The Opposition Leader has latterly even applauded the new restrictions on the usage of G cars by civil servants. Lands Minister Ralph Regenvanu is the chairman of the Constitutional Review Committee. MP Johnny Koanapo, who has been heading the Recovery Committee following Cyclone Pam, is vice chairman.

They will be making use of the expertise of many people from a variety of walks of life and following consultation with the electors of the country. Chairman Regenvanu told Islands Business that the CRC’s first report will be ready by the end of August. It should then be known whether a national referendum will be necessary.

The hope of all is that such agreement could be reached by the CRC membership that the expensive undertaking of a national referendum could be avoided. Chairman Regenvanu said the Government would only proceed to the tricky amendments to the Constitution after agreement had been achieved in the CRC.

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