FIJI COMPANY SEES POTENTIAL FOR LOCAL GROWERS

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Imported beans, lentils, peas can be grown in Fiji

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Nov. 2, 2009) - IMPORTS such as dhal and legumes can be grown locally, say Punjas quality manager Rinesh Chand.

He said in 2008, Fiji imported about $4 million worth of dried legumes - $300,000 on chick peas, $469,000 on beans and $226,000 peas and $1.2m on lentils.

Mr Chand said many locals assumed there was no market for legumes to be produced here.

"These legumes can be grown locally, provided they are able to meet these three factors - quality, quantity and consistent supply," he said.

[PIR editor’s note: Lautoka-based Punjas Group of Companies, which includes manufacturing, distributing and marketing, employs over 800 people and has customers throughout the Pacific region.]

"We at Punjas can buy the seeds from the farmers. Punjas imports lentils as a raw material. We are based in Lautoka and are willing to assist local farmers in this market.

"We want to promote local products. Lentils and legumes are processed and packed at the Punjas spice factory and distributed throughout Fiji and exported to Pacific countries including Australia and New Zealand."

Mr Chand made the comments at the Foundation for Rural Integrated Enterprise N Development stakeholders forum in Lautoka.

He said Punjas was prepared to buy locally produced legumes and process them provided it was of desirable quality.

He said one benefit of locally grown products was that they reduced production costs, keeping money remaining in the country instead of going out.

"This will in turn increase gross domestic product and move the country forward," Mr Chand said, adding it would give locals a sustainable income and help in poverty alleviation.

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

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