Situation Report, February 2021
Situation Report, February 2021

This month we have been consolidating. On the administrative front, we have to change all the land titles, as the agreements are in traditional village customs, not acceptable to international standards.  This isn't a problem, as everyone is willing,  just takes time.

With the gardens,  we are filling up the surrounds of each plant with cocopeat, ground coconut husks.  This provides the base for the compost on which the orchids thrive and combats the fusarium fungus.  The rainy season, the wettest for 40 years, so i have been told, has shocked the plants into growth ahead of flowering. Now the rain is raging,  we are seeing flowers again, which gives us a very long flowering season.

Next year, we shall prune earlier to  see if that   makes a difference. While seasons like this should come once in a blue moon,  we must prepare for them more frequently given the global climate. In Indonesia may be relatively untouched at present,  but we're must always expect the worst. On the positive side,  this extended flowering season makes it much easier to pollinate and harvest, requiring less personnel. We are allowing more pods per flower spike to make up the yield.  A vanilla orchid can only sustain a certain number of pods, so usually we pollinate just a few from each spike.  But if there are less spikes, we can pollinate more per spike.

Garden 14 is being resolved,  demonstrating just why we take time to get the land contracts sorted.  The owner has a land certificate for just part of the land.  The rest is village land which he had used for a long time. So we need to get a signature from the village head and create a new land certificate.

Growth wise,  we are starting to see some exciting developments. We have signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Raja Anom of Tabanan,  the oldest district and kingdom in Bali. This gives us four hectares on which to create model farms for Tabanan farmers to copy.  It also gives us a building for a vanilla processing unit. Here we shall base our collective,  where farmers can bring their harvested pods for curing.  We cure and sell,  keeping them informed and they get 70% of the profit. This should increase their income substantially while allowing us to start selling immediately without an enormous investment.  At the same time, our strict regulations enable us to overcome the two big problems with Indonesian vanilla.  Early harvest and delayed processing, both of which earn Indonesian vanilla a deserved poor reputation.  Another reason we sell our vanilla as Royal Spice Gardens vanilla. Gaining a separate reputation for quality, all the while making our operation a very sound ethical investment opportunity.

In addition to Tabanan,  we have opened discussions with Buleleng,  the fertile north of the island with existing vanilla plantations. We have offered the same deal, which is under consideration.  Should we close these two deals and bring twenty farmers on board as associates,  we shall make them money next year and Royal Spice Gardens will see an early profit.

In January we  were approached by some farmers from Adonara, a tiny island east of Flores.  A company had encouraged them to plant vanilla, and then tried to buy it at less than half the contracted price.  They are not happy.  Very early stages, but we are talking. I shall go there next month,  which involves flying to Timor,  tiny plane to East Flores,  then boat to the island.

This month,  February, I am in Kalimantan looking at setting up vanilla plantations there, to ensure we have a wider spread.  This reduces risk, gives us more information and allows us to compare quality from different locations. I am also investigating agarwood plantations.  We have buyers for Oud oil, so this is particularly interesting.  There are a number of other landowners wishing to meet me,  so we shall see what happens.

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