Agricultural Exports From Rotuma To Tuvalu Resumes

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Bilateral trade agreement collapsed in 2011

By Jone Luvenitoga

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 19, 2015) – The first load of root crops will make its way to Tuvalu from Rotuma as trade between the two islands nation resumes this week, says Rotuma district officer Niumaia Masere.

"A total of 10 tonnes of dalo plants, kumala (sweet potatoes) and cassava, bought at $A2/kg ($F3.23) will be the first shipment out of Rotuma Island since the trade was revived by the Prime Minister last year," Mr Masere said.

A company called the Rotuma Export Marketing Company (REMCOL) was set up by PM Voreqe Bainimarama during his visit as chief guest to the Rotuma Day celebrations to oversee the trade since the bilateral trade agreement collapsed in 2011 after three years of its existence.

"Now the exporting business has been handed to the hands of the Rotuman Council and the Government office providing its support through the Biosecurity and Customs office."

He said it was also the idea of the Government to bring the trading post to Rotuma since the agreement was signed between the two countries in 2008.

"The shift from Fiji's exporting business to Rotuma was based on the closeness of the island to Tuvalu. It takes 12 hours by boat to reach Tuvalu and the exported goods are still well intact."

"Exports were supposed to begin in March but the slow installation of facilities like generators and large coolers to cater for commercial exports at Ahau, the port of entry in the island weren't able to be completed until last month," he said.

Farmer Fesaitu Ravai, 45, of Oinafa welcomed the move saying that Rotuma was always playing the catch up game with high cost of transportation in the past years.

"The recent find of the fruit fly brought all hopes to a standstill. But now, we have something to work with," he said.

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