Another day in school

Salsa af Stavsnas
Ellinor Ristoff Staffan Ehde
Tue 19 Aug 2014 03:03
After yesterdays school day in the water learning about whales we went to a "factory"  where they process coconuts and vanilla.
(It was a great recommendation made by Dianne and Graham on Mauni)

well since we are in Tonga the pre ordered  taxi did not show up, we had to wait and wait and finally we got another car...

It all started with Ian Jones and his wife moving to Tonga a couple of years ago. After an earthquake in Chrischurch that killed people Ian should have met after lunch he decided it was time to think about  "living the dream"

Moved to Tonga for a better life but did not want to do what most expats did, start a restaurang or some tourist attraction.
So he looked at all the coconuts that nobody used for other than pig food. The value of a coconut should be brought from 35cents to 3,5 dollars!
His idea is to have a plant that has zero waste.

Next thing he saw was all the vanilla growing wild since a short trial on Tonga when farmers tried to make money when Madagaskar got hit by a hurricane and vanilla went from 50Dollars a pound to 500 Dollars (then down to 27).
Ian started a collective business were he invited all farmers on the island. 7 of them are not members, the rest are part of the business and have also possibility to rent machinery for their farm below common prices.

I think this business idea is a beauty...

The process today goes something like this

The coconuts are gathered and taken to the plant, a machine for opening the outer shell is ordered from India,
but it simply does not get done.... so today they are opened manually

Then you have the inner shell that is opened with a mean teeth machine

Then there is a guy who opens the inner part, checks the quality

Then it goes to grinder and then a pressing machine that gets the oil out.

The vanilla is made to grow with the help of copra that is piled on the bottom of the plants.
Vanilla is an orchid and the roots do not go down in the soil, they pick up energy from debris etc

The vanilla is developed in cooperation with an Australian company that have invested in the startup.
Vanilla is picked, boiled hastily in 60degrees of water to "kill" the plant.

Then they are dried in different stages.
Last stage they have to be processed in waxed paper

When Vanilla shows cristals like here it is of the highest quality

Well Ian is not happy with just whats developing, he is looking at other opportunities, like growing this nut

That is supposed to give an oil that makes scars diminish

This oil is used by surgeons

His idea is to use everything that comes out of the process, even food for their pigs that in turn urinate and poop, and take care of that and for instance use the urine to create methane gas for a steam engine that in turn creates electricity, and so on....

We got a ride back to the boat with Ian as he was going to town

Now we have to try the product....from the coconuts