Sowing Seeds of Opportunity: Expanding Vanuatu’s Tahitian Lime Exports Beyond Efate
A promising wind of opportunity is blowing towards the Tahitian lime producers from provinces other than Efate in Vanuatu. They stand to gain significantly from the potential to export their luscious Tahitian limes to New Zealand.
A New Chapter in Lime Export
This revelation emerged when the Ministry of Agriculture Livestock Forestry Fisheries & Biosecurity (MALFFB) in Vanuatu welcomed officials from New Zealand’s Ministry of Primary Industries (MPI) to visit commercial Tahitian lime farms on Santo. Until now, the **export pathway** for Tahitian Lime had been centred around Efate, given the majority of farms are found on this island.
A scoping mission in January by the Directors for Agriculture and Biosecurity to Santo farms was the catalyst that spurred the decision to explore how the export blueprint can be expanded to islands beyond Efate.
Armstrong Sam, Director for Biosecurity Vanuatu and the team leader of this fact-finding mission to Santo, emphasised the importance of this visit. He said, “It’s crucial to showcase to MPI the current state of lime production in Santo, in hopes that they can assist in forging pathways for other islands in the country.”
Impressive Potential in Santo
The team’s visit to Venui Tahitian lime farm on South Santo and Tropical Fruits farm atop Peleru plains was an enlightening experience, particularly in relation to the quantity required by Vanuatu to meet the low-season demand in the New Zealand market.
Nacanieli Waqa, MPI’s Technical Advisor, was impressed with the scale of production on Santo. He said, “We will need to consider developing secure export systems for these Santo limes. As there is no direct flight to NZ from Santo, all fruits will have to be transported and shipped out of Efate.”
Efate Lime Production in Perspective
To put things in context:
– Efate has eleven registered Tahitian lime farmers.
– There’s an approximate total of five thousand trees.
– The island exports 8 tons of Tahitian lime every season.
The mission to Santo identified three commercial farms, each having over a thousand trees, with numbers still growing as new land is cleared for cultivation.
Aiming for Consistent Supply
Vanuatu exported 7 tons of Tahitian Lime in 2021, and saw an increase in 2022 with 8 tons recorded. Unfortunately, the twin cyclones that hit Vanuatu wiped out 40% of the total stock on Efate, likely affecting the quantity of export in 2023.
To tackle a potential shortfall during the export season, Director Sam emphasized, “The MALFFB must devise a strategy to maintain and even increase the quantity sent to NZ each season. We need to expand our scope to consider sourcing from other islands outside Efate.”
The Role of EPMAP
This development coincides with the Enhanced Pacific Market Access Partnership (EPMAP) workshop in Port Vila, involving all supply chain stakeholders in the trade of Tahitian lime exports to New Zealand. The EPMAP workshop, funded by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs & Trade (MFAT) of New Zealand and in collaboration with the Pacific Community, aims to educate all involved parties and improve Vanuatu’s phytosanitary certification and market system.
A Fresh Start
With these developments, Vanuatu’s Tahitian lime industry is poised for a fruitful future. As the country navigates this potential new pathway, the focus will remain on maintaining the high production and export standards of Tahitian lime, ensuring a steady supply to New Zealand, and providing a boost to the economy of not just Efate, but other islands as well.