The Ministry of Agriculture’s Export Promotion Program aims to encourage a consistent supply of high quality agricultural produce for export markets.
This was highlighted by the Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development, Waterways and Environment Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy while officially handing over a cooler storage facility for DKAY exports at Mr Dharmen Kumar’s residence at Naceva Settlement in Sigatoka yesterday.
“Agriculture products are perishable in nature, this particular exporter collects the produce from this area, and there are instances when the product is not sent directly to the market, and there is a need to store the produce and then organise a market.
“It is very important that we have the storage facility, particularly when there is a large amount of agricultural produce being supplied. We don’t want farmers to be told that their produce will not be bought due to an influx in market supply as it will dishearten farmers,” he said.
“When there is a cool storage facility, that particular problem will be solved, the produce can be stored until the market is available,” added Hon. Reddy.
Storage facilities are an important component of the value chain in terms of organizing the market; “Government is looking at the transportation of produce from the farm gate to the storage facility or to the market, and under the Export Promotion Program there will be more opportunities for farmers and exporters, whereby they will be assisted once and will be encouraged to reinvest on their own from then on,” said Hon. Reddy.
Other programs existed within the Ministry to support exporters boost supplies for the export market.
“The Ministry’s Agro-Processors Infrastructure Support Program (APIS) budgeted at FJ$1 million, aims to achieve economic growth by encouraging consistent supply, improving existing export pathways and creating new export opportunities,” said Minister Reddy.
“The program focuses on helping exporters meet standards and requirements of importing countries and businesses. It includes the establishment of collection centers, cold storage systems, and the improvement of current processing and exporting facilities to meet international market requirements,” he added.
Dharmen Kumar was thankful for the Ministry’s assistance towards his export business, with the storage facility worth $40,666.67 to contribute significantly to his consistent supply to his New Zealand market, which he supplies twice a week from produce on his own farm and that of 20 other farmers from within their settlement.
“I started on a small scale as it was difficult for me to store the produce because there was no proper storage facility as most of the agricultural produce needed to be properly stored to maintain its quality for the export market,” said Mr Kumar.
“This cooler will help me to store vegetables in bulk and continue to buy from the farmers even when there is an influx in supply from local farmers.
“The cooler will help me to increase my supply for the export market which will also encourage other farmers to be consistent in supplying vegetables as they will not have to worry about the market for their production,’ he said.