Vendors at the Suva Municipal Market are back in business.
However, with COVID-19 and after Tropical Cyclone Harold, sales have dropped drastically.
Fijians relying on sales made from their Saturday stalls at the Suva Municipal market were among the many affected by Tropical Cyclone Harold.
“A lot of our experiences have been very challenging. Our farms were affected. This also lowers the value of our produce. For example, a pile of coconut now costs $2,” said Epeli Loaniceva, a vendor from Cautata, Tailevu.
Loaniceva is a farmer who supports his single parent mum and also looks after seven other family members.
“Our banana plants were damaged by Tropical Cyclone Harold. Now I am only surviving from the sale of my lemons,” said Miliakere Matani a widow who sells produce because she chooses not to bother her children with her daily needs.
Matani currently sells lemons and chillies, after Tropical Cyclone Harold destroyed all her other produce.
“We reach Suva on Friday evening, leave our produce here at the market. And then we look for places to sleep. We wake on Saturday morning and then we start selling,” said Mereia Bau who travels from Navosa to sell her produce at the Suva market every Saturday.
Bau said a healthy return from sales has been difficult after she lost alot of produce during Tropical Cyclone Harold.
Bau says she is one of the lucky ones, as some other farmers had lost everything.
People like the Exxon Mobil CEO who rely on these vendors for fresh produce is happy that despite the weather condition he is still able to purchase fresh vegetables.
“During the lock-down, I was left with no choice but to buy my vegetables from the supermarket. I always prefer buying fresh vegetables from the Suva market. I am grateful that despite the current weather condition, people like me can still buy fresh produce from those who work to make it available every Saturday.”
Many of these vendors rely on the sale of their produce and can make over 200 dollars worth of sale in one week.