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November 2023 Report

The rain is here!  The older vanilla is responding by putting out more flowers, but the weak vanilla vines aren’t yet putting out shoots.  The strong vines however are continuing to grow as well as flower.  When I say weak, I refer to the vines that were damaged by excess rain last year.  Of course, it isn’t rain they want, but humidity, which is here in abundance.  But right now, they are busy rebuilding their root systems.

The return of the rains also means we can create more young plants, and we have bought in more vanilla vines which we cut up and use as cuttings.  Some direct in the ground, a few in pots first of all.  This time of year, they don’t really need the pots, but it helps us to have some for the cuttings that fail.

Pollination continues apace, bringing with it interesting challenges.  We now have most of our workers capable of pollination, and we need them.  You see, in Bali there are always ceremonies.  We don’t give them a day off on Sunday, instead whenever they have a ceremony.  Fortunately, they come from different villages and each village has a different calendar, so usually we manage.  Every now and then we have everybody off, and then Agung Jaya, our manager, and I do all the pollinating.

The strong plants are putting out awesome big beans, while the weaker ones struggle, and it will be interesting to see the vanillin content.

We have started to buy vanilla and process it, to ensure we have a local market for our own vanilla when it is ready.  Dadap has taken charge of this area, and come march we shall have a steady supply of vanilla on the market.  We already have an order for 1.5kg per month.  Small beginnings, but progress.  I expect to get export orders to Europe once we have a regular supply, and we also have requests from Brazil.  The important thing is that we are producing good quality, black, shiny, supple vanilla.  Those that fail will become extract, and we are getting good reports from our temporary processing area.

We are encouraged by the new lobster setup. We were informed from Australia that they need sunlight, which is strange for a nocturnal species, so our providing them with depth was a mistake.  We have redesigned the ponds with shallow water and the odd deep hole and they appear to be enjoying it.  Berried females (in other words, with eggs) have gone into the new ponds and we are waiting to see what success we get.  Three restaurants now await our success…

The big issue is with blanketweed, which suffocates the pool.  We have tried several species of fish to eat the weed, some of which are successful, but even the vegetarian gourami prove to be fond of baby lobster.  Looks like we shall have to stick to removing the weed by hand.  A bit of an issue if the baby lobster hide in it.

Preparation work for the kitchen of the café has started, but the cockatoos have prevented us creating the breeding cages for Bali starling by eating the vanilla inside the large cage which needs to be dismantled.  We need to retain the cage for the time being to protect the vanilla.

Global Asia have still not provided the documentation promised, they cancelled the Manado trip at the last moment, but they still assure us the investment is happening.  We smile and continue.

Other large investments continue to be suggested and we continue to agree to the reasonable ones, and are waiting for an MOU for one in particular.  We are in discussions with the team of the likely winner of the elections next year, who want us to travel the country teaching farmers to grow vanilla, which of course is right in our plans.  Excellent connections and we are not worried who wins the election, because we have close ties with all the candidates, as is essential in this country.

November investment was Rp 539,500,000, investment in 2023 is Rp 2,124,373,067 and total investment so far is Rp 10,117,180,887.  Very encouraging increase, allowing us to start the buying of green vanilla for sale in March.

Rex Sumner


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