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Tavenui island accounts for most production

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, August 4, 2009) – More than $30m [US$15 million] was circulated on Taveuni in the past two years as revenue from the dalo [talo or taro in Polynesia] industry only.

The years of 2007 and 2008 saw $16million [US$8 million] earned in each year from exporting dalo, supplied by over 1000 farmers on the island.

[PIR editor’s note: Tevenui is an island off the southeastern coast of Vanua Levu, Fiji’s northern island. ]

The Ministry of Agriculture yesterday confirmed that about $32million was paid out to dalo farmers, export agents and truck companies involved in the export process in the past two years.

In 2007, the national dalo industry earned about $21 million [US$10.3 million] in total, out of which Taveuni earned $16m.

In 2008, it is understood that out of the $16million, export agents were paid $1.2m, trucking companies $700,000 while the remaining funds were dalo farmers' revenue. So far this year from the month of February to May, the Agricultural Marketing Authority has paid dalo farmers in Cakaudrove a total of $242,000 in which Taveuni dalo farmers received $169,000 and farmers on mainland Vanua Levu received $73,000.

And farmers have applauded AMA's efforts in always buying their dalo at a god price with the lowest range of $1.50 per kilogram.

Speaking on behalf of dalo farmers in Vuna, the biggest dalo export market in Taveuni, Fabiano Seitaba said farmers have survived financially because of dalo.

"Dalo is our major source of income and it has put our children through to tertiary institutions including pilot school and helped us upgraded our homes, buy our cars and meet basic needs," Mr Seitaba said.

AMA chief executive Ilaisa Cavu said it would be interesting to find out how much farmers were paid from the total export revenue of dalo for one year.

He said farmers were always given the smallest piece of the cake, which is an issue AMA is trying to address.

Mr Cavu said despite AMA's efforts in trying to improve the relationship between exporters and farmers, the company's initiative has always been attacked by exporters.

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