Close to seven thousand kilograms (7000kg) of the new potato variety (Red Pontiac potato) has been harvested and being purchased by the Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) at a guaranteed price of $1.50 per kilogram, says Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Dr Mahendra Reddy.
Dr Reddy adds that in launching the new Farmers Trust scheme under the Nadarivatu Development Program, the Ministry of Agriculture has ensured market access for a new variety of Red Pontiac potato.
“The Farmers Trust deducts 15 per cent from crop sales by farmers, to go towards their own preparations for new planting seasons,” Dr Reddy says.
“Farmers have also been urged to open bank accounts for savings, as we want to help farmers establish accounts with the Fiji National Provident Fund, for social security in retirement.”
Agriculture Marketing Authority Executive Chairman, Setareki Tale that through their tests, they have suggested the new variety of potato is firm and suitable for domestic use or even for commercial use as chips as well.
“As of now, we are liaising with some supermarkets around Fiji and had some success in that respect,” Mr Tale says.
“We are also having negotiations with some of our contracts, whom we supply.We have a total of seven tones of potatoes in stock and another two tones purchased. The forecast we have is a total of around 20 to 30 tonnes of potatoes.”
Mr Tale adds that potatoes were harvested from over 20 farmers, with more farms to be visited by the AMA.
“This significantly saves costs on transportation and the issue of having to find markets, for many of these remote and rural farmers,” he says.
“We expect to assist just under 50 farmers through potato farming. We have a spread of farmers in Nadarivatu, Ra, Ba, Tavua and Navosa and the Trust Fund launched today is an initiative in discussion with all stakeholders.
“So far, nine farmers have signed onto the Farmers Trust Scheme and the Ministry seeks to expand this to a social assistance scheme whereby part of the farmers’ proceeds go towards the welfare of their children in the new school year.”