By Aqela Lalakato and Sandeep Reddy

SUVA, Fiji (FijiSUN, Dec. 24) - A day from Christmas and market food prices are soaring already. Vegetables especially are hard to find at reasonable prices in big markets, roadside stalls and supermarkets. 

Carrots, Chinese cabbages, French beans, lettuce, capsicum, celery and tomatoes top the list of all market goers for Christmas. 

However, while commuters are busy ticking their shopping lists, producers, farmers and sellers count on luck for their income. 

Suva market vendor, Zan Chung, 17, says her vegetables are selling, but at a very slow rate. 

Nangini Lata, 45, of Nakasi found it hard to get rid of long beans from her table. 

"It seems like consumers are opting for French beans more," the mother of two said. 

Mangoes are finished for some but pineapple sellers are surely earning with sales at two dollars to three dollars a heap and 30c to one dollar a sliced piece. 

Nonu Ledua, a fruit seller, says customers crowd her table every day for sliced pineapples.

The hot weather helps her trade. 

Meanwhile, dalo leaves are also in abundance for lovo-lovers, selling at usual prices of 50c to one dollar a bundle. 

Lautoka Market vendor Uday, who sells fruits and vegetables, told the FijiSUN that his stall was not selling as much produce as others because people were only buying meat from supermarkets along with dalo and cassava for their lovo.

"Business is slow at the moment. Since morning we still have our produce lying there on the table. This is despite the full supply, like sometimes we are not able to meet customers’ demands, but now we have everything. We have reduced the prices substantially" Uday said.

Naitasiri farmer, Eroni, 21, who sells mainly cassava and dalo in Lautoka, says his business was booming.

"Business is good and I’m making plenty of money. People are mainly buying dalo.The price of dalo has not gone down because dalo is very expensive nowadays. That’s because there’s not much dalo in Lautoka," he said.

Stories of fish poisoning have been deterring people from the fish market. However, according to a fish market vendor, the fish that are currently on sale is safe to eat.

"People have been talking about fish poisoning but every fish sold at the Lautoka Fish Market is not poisonous. The Market Master checks everything.

"The fishermen who catch these fish are very skilled. They know which fish is poisonous and which is not," fish market vendor Vigneshwar, said.

Radio personality Marica Reeves is convinced that the fish sold at the Lautoka Market is completely safe.

"I just came back from Nadi, but there it’s not as special as to what I have seen here. I’ve come to buy the trevele, which is very good. It’s fresh, it’s not poisonous and it goes with the price. The price is quite good.

"At this time of the year, it’s very dangerous to buy fish like the Red Cod because it can be poisonous.

"Therefore, people should be very careful when buying" she added.

December 24, 2003



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