Let me open by hoping you all had a tremendous Christmas and wishing you all the very best for 2024. The signs are looking fantastic for the company for 2024, but let me come to that in a moment!
The vanilla is growing strongly, all the damaged vines are putting out new shoots and the vanilla that was sleeping through the dry season is growing strongly. I am particularly pleased with Garden 23, much of which is planted in a swamp. We have drained this with canals, and the canals all have flowing water, and the vanilla is doing superbly. Garden 18 did put out a few flowers, which we haven’t pollinated to ensure the plants are strong for next year. There are strong shoots now in all the 2-year-old gardens, which are excellent indications for the 2025 crop.
Many of my little experiments haven’t worked, of course. I am particularly sad that the sugar palm and oil palm are proving unwelcome hosts for vanilla. I had thought the detritus on the trunks would be great fertiliser, but the vanilla is making it lain it prefers smooth trunks and it will collect its own water, thank you very much. My dreams of making oil palm plantations organic lie in tatters…
Our usual host tree, the Gliciridia, is showing its limitations. Not only does it not have a fruit or secondary purpose, but they can die if we prune too much and their shallow roots indicate that with a mature vanilla orchid with 10kg of beans, they will be unable to support it. Too many are leaning already and making management difficult. Did I say 10kg? I certainly did. Young plants with just the single thick branch are producing well over a kilo, and we have more mature plants giving us well over 5kg. We will definitely have a multitude of plants from which we shall harvest over 10kg.
Host trees are still being tested and will be for years. My Pakistani mulberry is looking ok, but not exciting and fruit are tiny. So far, no sign of the promised 5cm berries. Amazon butternut is great, and a prolific fruiter, but the fruit is delicate. Delicious, but how to get it to market? Avocado is good, but massive trees. We have bought 50 eucalyptus trees which come from Maluku, and you can harvest an oil from the leaves and bark which we call white wood. It is used like tiger balm, and is fantastic. The entire output of Maluku is sold to the Chinese factories 5 years in advance. The way it grows is perfect for vanilla, but eucalyptus tends to absorb humidity and I’ve no idea if the vanilla will like it.
We have cracked processing the vanilla. It is looking extremely good. We are unable to use the Gianluca method, instead we are sweating and fermenting in a closed box for 3 days after a maximum 2 minutes in hot water. It comes out of the box a beautiful uniform dark brown, and then we dry it for a week, gradually reducing the time in the sun. I discuss curing with professors around the world, and in one conversation I mentioned that UV light helps, and they confirmed that UV aids the maturation process and brings out the perfect aroma. So, we now need a UV room in the factory.
Orders are beginning to come in. We have a monthly order from a chocolate factory in Bali, we have a request from Brazil and I have to go to Manado to discuss a contract with the Japanese. I am told they will give us a large order, which is money in the bank, but we shall see. Heard that before. We also wish to discuss laboratory equipment with them, and we are also discussing laboratory equipment with one of our German shareholders.
Once we have the laboratory in place, we shall be able to measure our vanillin content. We are aiming to get the vanilla to 2.5% vanillin content, where we shall then sell it as a new brand, Royal 20 and Royal 15, which refers to the size. Royal guarantees quality. The very best Royal 20 we plan to sell in boxes, for a high price. Carved teak boxes, a work of art. Target market Singapore and the Middle East.
The lobsters are progressing slowly. We have succeeded in getting a colony of tubifex worms going, which is excellent protein for baby lobsters and easy for them to catch. Next week we are inspecting a new site for a large lobster farm in Tabanan. I am also planning on visiting a hi-tech farm in Karangasam that is interested in collaboration.
Blanketweed is almost solved, by hand.
It seems the cockatoo is now caged, so we shall be starting the Rothschilds Mynah breeding program shortly.
Global Asia have been in touch. They are a group of companies, and they have changed the investment to come from Global Elements instead, and they have provided us with a Letter of Intent, for an investment of not one but two million dollars. They apologised for the delay. It seems the money, lots of it, is coming from a consortium of two lenders, and while one bank is ready to roll, the other is HSBC which has run into problems with its asset bank of housing mortgages in China proving to be worthless. This is confirmed from other sources. However, this issue is solved and they are expecting the money this month, January. We shall see. They require rather a lot, as it is not just to invest in us but also to acquire three companies in Indonesia. They like us, because we fill a hole in their portfolio and we provide them with eco friendly expertise. Our contacts are also proving beneficial to them in other areas, where we have opened some huge opportunities for them.
Indonesia is looking to move into the crypto world in a big way, and we were invited to a meeting with the major players in their steering committee which will be writing the regulations for Indonesia. Paul has been telling me what an expert he is in crypto, and was immediately out of his depth, so you can imagine that I didn’t even try. But I spoke briefly and explained to the minister that we were a bridge between the crypto world and Indonesian farmers. As I understand it, there are two ways that we can get funding, one as an NFT, Non Fungible Token, where we get money up front, use it to buy and process vanilla in our Phase 2, and they get a big slice of the profit. Means we can raise finance without selling shares, which is beneficial to you guys, although less profitable. Now, I don’t understand all of this, but it is nice that we are up there with the law makers in Indonesia. And it seems they need us.
We have been visited by a large Vietnamese consortium. It seems we are developing a reputation as vanilla experts in Asia. They wish to invest, and will pay for me to go and consult with them on how to set up their vanilla growing, and in due course they will be able to sell their vanilla under our brand.
It appears we are on the Prabowo team for the upcoming elections, and we shall be teaching farmers to grow vanilla and sell it for them in future. This is an election winner amongst hill farmers. Prabowo is currently on 48% in the polls and it seems unlikely anyone else can win. He is the current president's chosen successor, who will continue his development policies.
Zak took a holiday in the UK in December, so investment was nil, investment in 2023 remaining at Rp 2,124,373,067 and total investment so far is Rp 10,117,180,887. Expecting Rp 300 million is shortly though, and he is back and raring to go.
All looking rosy for a tremendous 2024 where your investment in us really takes off!
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