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Read the Mainland Holdings Case Study

About the company

Mainland Holdings is a well established national agribusiness company in PNG with 37 years experience in working with smallholder farmers. The company has grown to incorporate seven business divisions with its origins in the coffee industry. It has since grown into a sizeable business, with 2,000 employees but has maintained its close links with its rural shareholder base.

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Today, the company is involved in a variety of business activities, including, but not limited to, meat processing, poultry and coffee production. Recognising the potential to enhance the quality and supply of PNG’s vanilla, Mainland Holdings applied for an ECF grant to expand into the vanilla industry and establish a vanilla rapid curing project. Vanilla is grown extensively in PNG and global demand for quality cured vanilla outstrips supply. Interest in the crop however has dropped in PNG due to quality problems associated with poor curing techniques used in the village and subsequent low yields and fluctuating incomes.


Total grant funding approved: ECF A$453,745

About the project

Mainland Holdings will establish a processing plant that will convert fresh green vanilla pods into desiccated, fermented and dried products to international standards. This will greatly increase the demand for processed vanilla products from PNG. This process will be implemented through a joint partnerships with Uvan Ltd, a Ugandan company with over 20 years experience in vanilla production.

Results December 2012

  • The factory and curing plant has been completed and is operational however the operation has not been as successful as expected as Mainland has struggled to secure sufficient volumes of vanilla for a viable export business.
  • Mainland created seven full-time jobs and 20 part-time jobs in the curing plant. 12 women have been employed as graders and sorters of green vanilla pods in Lae. They work on an on-call basis, operating around 25% of the time. Previously there was limited opportunity in the rural area for paid employment for women.
  • Mainland has also employed three extension workers on a seasonal basis and they are working with women in particular, encouraging growers to improve their productivity and educating people on quality requirements.
  • Overall, Mainland has sourced vanilla from 150 households from across Papua New Guinea. Interviews with farmers selling vanilla to Mainland Holdings found on average they had 300 vanilla plants. In a discussion, they said they sell vanilla only when the price is right or to access immediate cash to fund day-to- day expenses.