|(L-R) Prof Helen Wallace, Elektra Grant and Votausi |
Mackenzie-Reur with a jar of the new tamarind chutney
Helen has also mentored a young researcher at her university, Ms Elektra Grant. Elektra has been spending a lot of time in the field in Vanuatu and Solomon Islands working with the farmers and private-sector partners. She participated in survey research on canarium stakeholders and used some of this work for her Honours thesis at University of the Sunshine Coast. Helen recognised Elektra’s potential and gave her the lead role in conducting research on tamarind processing techniques in the Vanuatu tamarind project.
Votausi Mackenzie-Reur runs Lapita Cafe in Port Vila, Vanuatu. She is well known in the Pacific as a good example of a Ni-Vanuatu woman who is both a successful entrepreneur and a great role model for other women. Votausi has been collaborating with Helen in ACIAR projects since 2008 and says that the current PARDI projects on canarium and tamarind have given her the confidence to invest further in growing her business.
|Packets of processed canarium products from Votausi’s Lapita Cafe|
Votausi is currently establishing a collection and processing centre in Luganville on the island of Espiritu Santo, to enable her to buy more canarium and tamarind from local farmers. She says the results from ACIAR’s tamarind market research gave her confidence to develop Vanuatu Tamarind Chutney as a new line of product. Helen says that Votausi also mentors other women, and was happy to share her insights on establishing small businesses with women in Solomon Islands when she went there on a study tour organised by the project.
Clearly these skilled and committed women all play different but significant roles in ACIAR’s forestry projects. More importantly, through sharing their knowledge and experiences they are benefiting the communities they work with.
By Tony Bartlett, ACIAR's Forestry research program manager
PARDI (and see PARDI's own website)
FST/2010/013 and PARDI's PRA.2010.03 Developing markets and products for the Papua New Guinea canarium nut industry
FST/2006/048 Processing of Canarium indicum nuts: adapting and refining techniques to benefit farmers in the South Pacific
PRA.2012.03 Improving processing and marketing to improve the tamarind value chain in Vanuatu