Pacific Provender on Erromango survives and so do the jobs

Pacific Provender (PP) built a distillery at Port Narvin Erromango last year and produced the first ever Sandalwood oil on the island, which was covered by Daily Post.

Pacific Provender Director Jeff Allen (pictured) was away in Egypt and Indonesia working for UNIDO and the University of Western Australia, working for the UNIDO (EMAP project) which covers growing, extracting and value adding to leaves, fruit, bark, roots and wood products.

He is employed by UNIDO to help the essential oil industry in Egypt identify gaps in the production from farm to the export of the oil and in Indonesia he has designed a machine for the hand processing of avocado oil form the waste avocados in West Timor.

Both of these projects are livelihood projects for farmers to improve their living standards by value adding to their natural resources instead of selling the raw material to agents and buyers to be processed outside of the country. Whilst in Indonesia he was watching the Cyclone Pam develop through the various weather sites and constantly call chief Willie Netai to update the community and then Netai would send the message around to other villages.

He last spoke with them on Friday afternoon but since being back in Vanuatu has spoken with people from Erromango that say every one is safe.

Pacific Provender has always worked to improve the livelihoods of the farmers they work with. On Erromango they work in conjunction with The Sandalwood and Essential Oil Association of Erromango.

“I have a friend that is a pilot and he sent me photos of Port Narvin, so I am aware of the extent of damage in that village and also Ipota. I have spoken since to others from Williams Bay and they say all people are safe,” Allen said.

“I know what a big job is ahead of us all in Vanuatu.”

Pacific Provender’s plans are to start processing on Erromango again and getting other essential oil seedlings out to the members of the Sandalwood and Essential Oil Association of Erromango as it has machines for doing Virgin Coconut Oil, Tamanu, Ginger and Island curry.

“We also imported last year some essential oil plants that farmers will be able to grow this year, most of the plants once established can be harvested every six or 12 months,” he said.

“This will help farmers a lot as there will be revenue coming in every six months and on a regular basis.”

PP has a large network of clients and friends with different expertise that are wanting to come and help rebuild in anyway they can. The first priority will be to establish the nurseries in the different villages so these plants can be raised ready for the association members. This will broaden the selection of essential oils that we in Vanuatu can sell to the international market. Whilst in Egypt & Bali the PP Director was asked about the other essential oils that buyers can buy from them.

“Everyone overseas who smelled our oil from Erromango loved it and wanted to buy more,” he said.

“Pacific Provender purchased the sandalwood from the association members during the 2014 sandalwood season.

“All the growers where so happy they where getting paid and also the use of digital scales, surprised everyone as we where paying to the decimal point, not rounding it down. During that season the first of our staff learnt how to operate many machines with safety as the first priority.

“This coming season Pacific Provender will be training more people from Erromango to operate the different machinery in the distillery.

“Once farmers become members of the association they will receive growing advice on the different plants and also receive the plants at a very low cost to grow then Pacific Provender will buy the leaves or wood back from them to make oil. In the near future members of the association will be able to come to the distillery and learn how to operate the machines so they can do it themselves.”

The Sandalwood and Essential Oil Association of Erromango is registered as a charitable entity through the VFSC (012507) and has helped with the Crowd Funding campaign they are doing through the internet.

“We have been getting donations from USA, Egypt, Australia & England,” Allen said.

“The funds raised will be gifted directly to the association so they can purchase machinery or build a famers coop on Erromango.”

Jeff Allen has been working with a builder last week to design a building that can be the house for the farmers coop but if the threat of a cyclone is coming they can empty the shop and shelter inside. They have also rallied many Australians to donate house hold goods from clothes to cooking & eating utensils.If anyone from Vanuatu is interested in joining the association, contact Jeff Allen on 5477768, [email protected] or Pacific Provender on Facebook. Link up with them so you can see how the fund raising is going for the Farmers Association.

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