Government will soon launch candies made from pawpaw and pineapple, revealed Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy.

“Our agriculture research station, under the guidance of the Permanent Secretary for Agriculture Mr Ritesh Dass, has developed two new products. Candies made from pineapple and pawpaw,” Minister Reddy said.

He added farmers would now not have to worry about flooding the market with pineapple and pawpaw because the Agriculture Marketing Authority would take care of the purchasing of the produce.

The Minister highlighted that at the moment local supermarkets were selling dried fruits and dried candies manufactured abroad, but that would change as the country would now have the capacity to produce its own as part of product development by the Agriculture Ministry.

“In this way, we can grow the market if we create new products. If you don’t create new products, if you continue to push commodities, the market will be flooded,” he said.Dr Reddy said the issues of perishability and flooding the market in the agriculture sector were some challenges Government was vigorously working on addressing, through product development in the Ministry of Agriculture.

He said a significant amount of work in his Ministry was now dedicated to product development.“We are mindful of agriculture expanding at a commercial level, we do not want the market to be flooded. For that, we have to make a transition, from commodity to product,” Minister Reddy said.“Commodities can be directly consumed.

There is a limit to the size of commodities that can be consumed. There is a limit to the amount of dalo or cassava that can be consumed.”

Dr Reddy said an example of product development from commodity to product was converting bongo chillies to chilli sauce, or cassava to cassava fries that franchises like McDonald’s or Burger King could utilise.

“One of the problems of agriculture commodities is its perishable nature. We cannot keep it for long.

“However, if you value add it and process it – we can increase the shelf life. Perishability will not be an issue.”

Another aspect of product development, he added, was attracting new consumers.

He said another area Fiji was targeting to ensure sustainability of its product development was to break into the major supermarkets in Australia and New Zealand.

“We need to develop products out of these commodities and sell it out of Woolworths and Coles; they are the mainstream supermarkets, where every Australian and New Zealander is buying from

.“That’s the market we should target.“We cannot limit ourselves from selling in these Fiji shops, Samoan shops in Australia and New Zealand. That’s not a full market.

“In doing so, ordinary New Zealanders and Australians will come and buy our cassava fries, chillie sauce etc.”

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