Tanna Farms peanut growers benefited from a practical workshop in best practice organic peanut farming with Australian peanut expert, Dr Graeme Wright in early June. To optimise their peanut production, Tanna Farms invested in Dr Wright’s services to review the local company’s Tanna peanut farming operations and provide practical agronomy training for local peanut farmers in Lenakel.
Dr Wright has given Tanna Farms a very positive report about Tanna’s peanut growing potential. “Tanna is probably the most fertile place I have ever been to in the world. It’s got huge peanut production potential. The natural conditions are perfect for peanuts and the soil is unbelievable, just beautiful soils … magic fertile soils!
“Peanuts are a huge global crop and 98% of peanuts grown around the world are grown using pesticides. Everyone has different methods, challenges and opportunities.
“In Tanna, it was great to meet the local farmers and see their organic growing methods. I was really impressed with the pristine environment and fertility of the soils. You can grow anything here and you’re growing it without sprays”, said Dr Wright.
“With a few easy changes to local farming practices, there’s huge potential to increase production for the same amount of labour.”
“With increased production comes increased employment and increased economic benefits which means positive spin offs for local communities. Tanna’s peanut potential is very exciting”, said Dr Wright.
During the one-day workshop run by Dr Wright, Tanna peanut growers learnt the latest peanut organic best practice in crop density, spacing, weed control, disease control, optimal planting times and crop rotations. Farmers were strongly encouraged to continue to use low technology organic methods and work smarter to increase peanut production.
Tanna Farms peanut growers then planted out a trial plot using their new knowledge and planting techniques. The trial plot will be harvested after 90-days and the yields and quality of the nuts compared with an adjacent traditional plot.
Dr Wright, who is from the Australian peanut capital Kingaroy, has been growing peanuts and studying peanut breeding for over thirty years. His work has taken him to far flung peanut places around the world, including the developing economies of India, China, Vietnam, Cambodia, Philippines, East Timor and Papua New Guinea.
“Tanna Farms wanted solid, practical advice for our Tanna farmers to take their peanut growing to the next level. Investing in expert advice makes good business practice. Graeme is predicting big things for us which is brilliant”, said Tanna Farms Director, Jono Bushell.
The humble Tanna peanut was a game changer for Tanna Farms post Cyclone Pam. The fast growing 90-day crop filled the economic breach while their coconuts were re-growing. With some quick thinking, Tanna Farms turned the situation around, and shifted manufacturing from producing “The Good Stuff” organic virgin coconut oil to also making “Crushed It” peanut butter and roasted peanut snacks with locally grown Tanna peanuts.
This meant that local Tanna farmers could keep earning much needed cash for their families after the devastating category 5 tropical cyclone smashed through Vanuatu. Without peanuts, Tanna Farms would have really struggled to keep operating post Cyclone Pam and local jobs would have been lost.
Instead peanuts transformed the Vanuatu company with the popular organic peanut butter flying off Vanuatu supermarket shelves, and it has opened-up potential export opportunities to New Zealand and Australia. “We knew we were onto a good thing with growing peanuts in Tanna, and now peanut expert Graeme has confirmed it”, said Tanna Farms Jono Bushell.