FIJI HOTELS FORCED TO IMPORT FRESH PRODUCE

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Operators say local growers stick to traditional crops

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, September 30, 2009) - Imports of fruits and vegetables are a necessary evil for Fiji’s tourism industry even though the country's balance of payments needs to improve, head of the Fiji Islands Hotels Association Dixon Seeto said.

Seeto said hotels had tried their best to use local fresh produce on their menus but had not been entirely successful in their efforts.

"The association keenly believes in helping the local industry but there are some things that are just not grown in Fiji. Things like pears, apples and some vegetables which are used on a daily basis are not local produce," he said.

Seeto said local producers would need to diversify their products if they wanted the hotel industry to use more local input.

"There are some products which can be grown locally and tests have proven that they can be grown in Fiji but producers are not moving away from traditional crops," Seeto said.

Last month Cabinet approved what it said was a new approach to increasing the use of local vegetables in Fiji's hotels and resorts.

In addition, government has started a program that will see villagers in Nadrau Village and the Nadarivatu area planting the Red Pontiac potato variety to replace imports.

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