Vanilla farmers bring first Fairtrade certification to Tonga

Vanilla Growers Association member, Pasepa Lolohea, holding a bunch of cured vanilla beans. © Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand

‘Monitoring the Scope and Benefits of Fairtrade’ in its seventh edition is the latest report featuring data on Fairtrade’s impact. This story is featured on page 149 of the report. Find out more 

A small dot in the South Pacific witnessed a big Fairtrade celebration in 2015, when the Vanilla Growers Association of Vava’u (VGA) became the first farmer association in the archipelago state of Tonga to achieve certification.

Fairtrade Australia & New Zealand (Fairtrade ANZ) began working with VGA soon after the association was formed in 2013. Through its Producer Development Fund, Fairtrade ANZ invested in equipment to improve the efficiency and productivity of VGA’s farmers. A library of tools now offers farmers the use of wheelbarrows, brush cutters, ladders and other equipment necessary to maintain their vanilla gardens. They have also set up a model curing facility to add value to and improve the quality of VGA’s vanilla.

With the support of its partner Queen Fine Foods, VGA was aiming to sell between three and five metric tonnes of Fairtrade and organic certified vanilla in 2015. This would bring up to US$350,000 in income to 168 vanilla growing members and up to US$33,000 in Fairtrade Premium to the association, to be used for business and community development activities.

‘With the support of Queen Fine Foods and Fairtrade, growers are returning to their vanilla plantations and gradually restoring them to full production,’ says VGA’s President Sione Lolohea. Read the full story

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