The Ministry of Agriculture has brokered a deal with market vendors in the locked down areas of the Western Division to ensure a consistent supply of vegetables and crops.

Senior management from the Ministry of Agriculture have met with representatives of market vendors in Nadi and Lautoka to discuss how they could ensure that Fijians living within the locked down zones would continue to have access to fresh vegetables and crops.

Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, Dr. Mahendra Reddy said, “I am glad to say that following successful meetings and discussions, market vendors will be contacting their suppliers in these areas, if they have not already done so, for the supply of fresh market produce at the borders of the locked down areas.

The vendors will pick it from the borders and take it to the market where our fellow Fijians in the lockdown zone can have access to produce and buy it,” he said.

“The Ministry has made arrangements with the law enforcement authorities to allow these drop offs and pick-ups as they are manning the borders of these locked down areas.”

Minister Reddy wishes to assure that following their discussions with vendors, prices are expected to be the same as it was during the pre-lockdown period.

Lautoka Market Vendors President, Mrs. Filomena O’Neill confirmed the discussions and added they had agreed that they would continue to sell at pre-locked down prices.

“We urge the farmers within the containment areas to be mindful of the current situation and not raise their selling price, which inadvertently would affect the consumers in the end,” she said.

“It does not mean that they take advantage of the situation. The vendors are often held responsible for high prices, when there are other players in the produce supply chain who can influence the consumer price.

If these farmers or middlemen put up the prices to the vendors, we have no choice but to pass on that price to customers,” she further added.

Mrs O’Neill said her members had already contacted their suppliers who would be bringing in fresh produce from Wednesday and farmers in Sigatoka, Rakiraki, and Tavua areas would bring in theirs later this week.

Farmers can contact the following market vendor reps if they are not able to reach their usual buyers in the locked down areas:

Nadi market: • President – Lia Launimate – 9380743 (Pratibha)• Vice President – Abdul Shazad – 8660013Namaka Market• President – Mariana Divikoca – 9397812• Lino KaituciLautoka Market• President – Filomena Ditukana 9395168

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