25th October 2017
Australia’s Centre for International Agricultural Research (ACIAR) is helping Vanuatu business woman Votausi Mackenzie-Reur to commercialise and protect her new local foods company after it was almost destroyed as a result of Tropical Cyclone Pam two years ago. The success of her business means that Ms Mackenzie-Reur is now able to employ more locals which means they are able to afford to send their children to school. It’s the good news story that keeps on giving and it all revolves around a humble nut.
The native canarium nut has always been eaten raw, but Ms Mackenzie-Reur spent five years developing her Lapita local foods company to use the nuts to create cookies, flour and pastes. The business was just starting to get off the ground when it was dealt a blow by TC Pam. Ms Mackenzie-Reur thought it was the end of her livelihood, but it turned out to be just the beginning thanks to the help of Australian researchers.
Her sons came to her rescue, keeping the products safely stored while the ACIAR helped her to secure the safety of her business moving forward, reducing the impact of any future cyclones. The scientists had also been helping her to grow her business and increase its sophistication. Australian scientists helped educate her on how to dry and process the nuts so that they would meet food safety standards.
Ms Mackenzie-Reur’s products are now available in shops and a number of Vanuatu hotels and she plans to increase her certification so that she can also sell internationally and on cruise ships. The expansion of her business means she now employs 15 full time staff and uses the nuts of over 5000 farmers. Her nut trade is helping to improve the livelihoods of so many people in the developing nation and the income that her business provides is helping families to afford to be able to send their children to school.