20 Feb 2012

Vanilla enterprise aimed at putting Tonga on map

6:51 am on 20 February 2012

A New Zealand company selling vanilla grown in Tonga wants its product to lift that country's profile.

Heilala vanilla is grown in the Vava'u village of Utanake and elsewhere in Tonga's northern group of islands.

The company's director says land at Utanake was leased to her father for development of some sort after he'd helped villagers recover from Cyclone Waka in 2001 and the first crop was harvested four years later.

Jennifer Boggiss says the United States and Australia are the biggest markets and the enterprise is becoming increasingly important to Tonga's economy.

"Similar to Fiji Water, that really put Fiji on the map. We would like to see Heilala vanilla really increasing the profile of Tonga."

Jennifer Boggiss says her company is the only one in the world that grows its own vanilla.