DALO FARMERS FLOURISHING ON FIJI’S TAVEUNI

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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Aug. 22) - The ‘dalo’ (taro) market for farmers on Taveuni Island continues to bloom with agents from Viti Levu now buying directly from the farmers.

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

Petero Rabuke, a farmer of Vuna Village said the demand for dalo from agents and the market on Viti Levu has increased.

"Now the agents come directly to us and they buy in bulk with a minimum of one ton of dalo, which is about eight to 10 sacks of dalo selling," he said. "The price of dalo at this stage is good, selling at FJ$1.80 [US$1.09] a kilogram and to sell about 10 sacks of dalo gives a farmer more then FJ$1,000 [US$609] and that's a lot of money."

Mr. Rabuke said the farmers were paid directly at their farms once the sacks of dalo were delivered.

Another farmer Mata Prasad of Delaivuna said the farmers do not have to look for a market compared to previous years.

"The demand has now grown and dalo is a very good farming business even though at times the prices drop, it still gives farmers good return at the end of the day," Mr. Prasad said. "It saves the farmers a lot of money when the agents come directly to us and buy from us."

In an effort to assist the farmers, interim Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forests, Jainend Kumar promised to have continuous network with the farmers which would help curb any problems they faced.

Mr. Kumar traveled to the island last week to get direct feedback from the farmers about the problems faced on the island and what could be done to address the hiccups.

"To solve any problem one needs to understand and talk to the people who experience these problems in their day-to-day life," he said. "We can very well predict the problems these farmers face but we will only come to know the seriousness of the problems once we meet and discuss it over with the farmers."

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