For more than 40 years the Tutu Rural Training Centre has been working on integrated farming methods at its Oceania Farm and at its participant’s farm. The methods have been adopted by many farmers within the Tutu catchment area. This integrated approach combines different types of farming techniques for demonstration to farmers. It includes nursery management, crop rotation, composting, mulching as well as Vanilla farming. The Tutu Vanilla demonstration block is part of the integrated farming system.
Vanilla is a climbing vine that has its history in Tutu in late 1978, which was brought in by the early Marist Fathers and Brothers of the Society of Mary. The idea was to be integrated into the cropping system for the initial set-up of Tutu and its program. The freshly leaves that can reach 25 centimeters long and 10 centimeters wide became an activity for those on formation and managed to be replicated to different parts of the province of the participants. In the early years of the 1980s, Vanilla was dropped from being a crop as it is been looked at as time and labour intensive.
In the year 2012, the agriculture commodity Vanilla made its way back into Tutu and thanks to Br Iosefo Cakaunivalu S.M. for re-introducing the commodity. Sourcing of planting material is not a problem as it is already grown wild from the previous Tutu vanilla farm.
With 207 Vanilla plants at the demonstration site, Vanilla has made its first flowering this month after nine years been grown in the field. Br Iosefo S.M. continues to persevere daily like any farmer tendering his Vanilla orchard. Now fifty of his Vanilla plant is been flowering and has attracted young farmers and other farmers who are interested in Vanilla farming.