The Global Food Studies staff, Craig Johns and Camilo Esparza Garcia, recently visited Vanuatu to attend the tamarind inception workshop and conducted a number of value chain interviews focussing on local retailers in collaboration with the Vanuatu Department of Industry. The trip also provided an opportunity to meet up with their Canarium project partners and start plans for the next round of consumer research for both tamarind and canarium.
These activities were part of the PARDI research program aiming at promoting sustainable livelihood outcomes for South Pacific households.
According to the PARDI tamarind value chain review, tamarind has been grown in the Pacific since the 1700’s. However, the value added commercial potential of tamarind has not been realised and there is a lack of awareness of the potential of tamarind at the village level.
Interviews with various stakeholders suggested various issues along the existing tamarind supply chain. One main issue in the chain was getting enough good quality and quantity of product from suppliers in the outer islands. There also seemed to be lack of drying expertise and quality control, lack of solar dryers and training in their use, lack of proper packaging, and lack of processing and value adding options. Stakeholders also noted difficulties in providing feedback to remote island’s farmers after they deliver their products and building businness relationships with farmers in remote islands.
Based on interviews with tamarind retailers, tamarind was not available all year around. It run out between seasons with price and quality play as the main purchasing drivers. Seventy percent of consumers were locals whilst the rest are tourists mainly from France and New Caledonia.
The tamarind inception workshop gave opportunities for various stakeholders to discuss challenges and opportunities for expanding the tamarind industry. At the workshop, village people were given time to share their success stories. One example was about the recent success of the solar drying trials for a range of different produce such as pineapple, mango, fish, Nangai, etc. They were looking foward to trying tamarind when the season starts in late September. There was also discussion on how the industry body can help develop commercial businesses.