A delegation from Papua New Guinea, including senior officers from central government agencies such as the Department of National Planning and Monitoring (DNPM), the Spice Industry Board (SIB) under the Department of Agriculture and Livestock (DAL), as well as Provincial Government and Administration Institutions in East and West Sepik, and a model vanilla farmer, visited Madagascar on an 11-day exposure visit, to learn from Madagascar’s vanilla industry sector. The exposure visit was arranged and supported by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), as part of the European Union-funded STREIT PNG Programme, aimed at promoting the development of vanilla value chain in Papua New Guinea.
The focal point of this journey was Sava, a region synonymous with vanilla excellence. Nestled on the northern and northeastern coast of Madagascar, Sava has become the epicentre of vanilla cultivation, encompassing every aspect from farming to processing and export. The delegation’s itinerary took them through this green expanse, immersing them in the heart of the world’s leading vanilla production and export hub, which accounts for approximately 80% of the global vanilla market.
The visit included meetings with senior officials in Madagascar from the Department of Agriculture and Department of Trade and Industry, private enterprises, and vanilla farmers, as well as visits to various sites, such as vanilla gardens, processing facilities, testing and certification laboratories, and export facilities. This exposure visit provided a unique and unprecedented opportunity for Papua New Guineans to have a first-hand experience and observe how the vanilla value chain has been regulated and planned at the policy level and how it operates at the production, processing, certification, and marketing stages on a commercial scale in Madagascar. Madagascar is the world’s leading country in vanilla production and export.
The delegation was impressed by the quality of Madagascar’s vanilla products and the strong collaboration among different stakeholders in the sector. They also learned about the challenges and opportunities faced by the vanilla industry in Madagascar, such as climate change, threat of pests and diseases, price volatility, quality standards, traceability, certification, and market access. The delegation expressed their interest in considering the application of some of the best practices and lessons learned, especially on the policy and legislation required for strengthening the vanilla sector from Madagascar to their own context in Papua New Guinea.
Mr Floyd Lala, Director of the National Authorizing Officer Support Unit at DNPM, reflected on the enlightening visit, stating, “After visiting Madagascar, I’ve gained valuable insights into their success as the world’s leading vanilla producer. Papua New Guinea, contributing just 3 to 4 percent of global vanilla production, holds immense untapped potential. From a government perspective, we have a lot to improve upon, particularly in terms of the policies and regulations governing the vanilla sector. We need to establish necessary standards to significantly boost production.”
“Madagascar’s well-established system, fostering strong government-farmer-business relationships and effective marketing strategies, sets a clear example. Collaboration with all key players in the vanilla value chain is essential. It is essential for us to collaborate effectively with all key players in the vanilla value chain. Together, we can promote policies and triggers to drive our vanilla industry’s growth, making vanilla a cornerstone of our economic development and community well-being,” Lala added.
Mr Nicodemus Mainga, a model farmer from East Sepik Province and part of our delegation, was amazed by the valuable skills and knowledge he acquired during our visit to Madagascar. He shared, “I learned a lot about how Madagascar grows its top-quality vanilla, making them the best in the world. This visit was super helpful for me as a farmer. Now, I can share these techniques with my fellow farmers in Papua New Guinea, so we can also make vanilla as good as Madagascar’s. It’s a win-win for us, and I’m really happy I came to visit Madagascar.
FAO Senior Agricultural Officer, Mr Rabi Rasaily, said that the exposure visit was a valuable learning experience for the delegation and that it would help them improve their knowledge and skills in vanilla production and processing but, most importantly to formulate good governing policies, regulations and standards that protect producers, traders and exporters rights while contributing to quality assurance to establish trust on PNG vanilla with the international buyers. He also said that FAO continues to provide technical assistance and capacity building to support the development of vanilla value chains at all levels in Papua New Guinea.
The FAO-led EU-STREIT PNG Programme is the largest grant-funded Programme of the European Union in the country. It focuses on increasing sustainable and inclusive economic development in rural areas by enhancing economic returns and opportunities within cocoa, vanilla, and fisheries value chains, as well as strengthening and improving the efficiency of value chain enablers, including the business environment, and supporting sustainable, climate-resilient transport and energy infrastructure development. The Programme covers two provinces, East Sepik, and West Sepik.