Heilala Vanilla Update | Cyclone Gita
Cyclone Gita hit Tonga’s main island of Tongatapu on Monday night as well as the island of ‘Eua.
We have an operation on ‘Eua with the Heilala ‘Eua manager and her family based there along with 40 vanilla farmers we work with. We have spoken with our team on ‘Eua who sought shelter in the local church during the cyclone and feel thankful and grateful to report that they all safe. Our founder John Ross is currently in Tonga and will be assessing damages to buildings and the 2018 vanilla crop over the coming week.
We are currently planning relief efforts to assist the families and grower communities in ‘Eua who we work with. The initial need is for Weetbix (breakfast wheat biscuits) and long life milk along with 20 chainsaws to help with the clearing of the debris and fallen trees and structures. We are also awaiting confirmation of how we can best also support the local school on ‘Eua which is next to our vanilla packing house in an effort to get it back up and running.
As vanilla grows 20 degrees either side of the equator we have come to expect cyclones – and as you may be aware having our Tonga operation over two islands, both Vava’u and ‘Eua spreads our risk. As part of our supply chain strategy we also partner with suppliers in Uganda and Madagascar to further reduce geographical risk. Our future supply chain strategy includes partnering with growers throughout neighbouring South Pacific Islands including Fiji, Vanuatu, Samoa and the Cook Islands.
We thank you for your messages of support and offers of assistance in the last 48 hours.