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Over $500,000 Paid To Farmers For Fresh Produce During COVID-19 Lockdown Operation

AMA bought over 50 tonnes of fresh produce from farmers across Fiji during these challenging and unprecedented times and paid cash on the spot to the farmers.
20 Apr 2020 13:46
Over $500,000 Paid To Farmers For Fresh Produce During COVID-19 Lockdown Operation

The Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) chief executive officer Alvin Sharma has clarified that the AMA bought and sold produce during the COVID-19 lockdown at the same price.

This was revealed during a press conference held at the Ministry of Agriculture Headquarters in Raiwaqa on Friday.

Following the announcement of the lockdown of the areas which were and are still currently on lockdown, the Ministry of Agriculture in collaboration with the AMA set up buying booths at these respective borders to ensure a consistent supply of fresh fruits and vegetables were available to Fijians within the lockdown boundaries.

“I would like to reiterate that the Agricultural Marketing Authority bought the produce from farmers and sold them to market vendors at the same price,” said Mr. Sharma.

He highlighted that the AMA bought over 50 tonnes of fresh produce from farmers across Fiji during these challenging and unprecedented times and paid cash on the spot to the farmers.

A total of $510,155.35 was spent during the COVID-19 lockdown operation by the Agricultural Marketing Authority.

“This is a phenomenal achievement for AMA as we have provided the farmers of Fiji, especially in the Peri-Urban and Rural areas, with a readily available outlet to sell their produce to and thus generate good cash flow for themselves & their families,” said Mr. Sharma.

Meanwhile, Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment Mahendra Reddy responded to comments on the varying vegetable prices sold in the markets, stating that these complaints were unfounded, with unnecessary blame being placed on the AMA, middlemen and vendors alike.

Mr. Reddy said the price variation at the farm gate and retail market was a natural occurrence of a competitive market.

“In a competitive market, production, supply, demand and other external factors such as lockdowns contribute to the final retail price. There are winners and losers. This may be a sellers and suppliers market.

Mr Reddy said that it would be natural during these times when supply was affected by weather conditions, and prices would be pushed up so that farmers, middlemen, and vendors, all those in the supply chain, would make more margin per unit vis-à-vis during a normal season.

“Agricultural Marketing Authority is closely working with the Ministry of Agriculture and is playing an active and critical role in ensuring food security in the country,” he said.

“AMA is also establishing a structured and sustainable supply chain in its bid to ensure a reliable and consistent supply of produce and one which is also dynamic in nature.

Feedback: maraia.vula@fijisun.com.fj



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