NAITASIRI vegetable and root crop farmers claim they are not receiving a return on their investment.
Prem Chand, a grower, said they were selling their produce for less than they spent to prepare land, plant, harvest and transport them to market.
He owns three acres of land where he farms dalo, sweet potatoes (kumala) and pumpkins.
Mr Chand said farming was the family’s main source of income.
He said it took seven months to harvest dalo, five months for kumala and four months for pumpkin.
“To prepare an acre of land, I need four bags of fertiliser, one bag costs more than $70 and I use fertiliser once a month,” Mr Chand said.
“Preparing land for dalo farming, I need four litres of weedicide, and a litre costs around $18, so I spend around $70.
“These crops and vegetables take months to grow before harvest and to produce quality we need to feed it with good fertiliser.
“But the sad thing is, with all the money used in fertiliser and weedicides, the effort and sweat we put into farms, the middle men will buy a kilogram of dalo for about $1.50.
” He said their biggest cost – fertiliser and weedicide – had recently increased, but not their selling price.
“Farmers are also struggling to find markets that offer good prices for our produce. Apart from our farm cost we have other expenses like electricity bills and basic food items, our electricity bill is about $25 every month.
“We just hope the government that will win the 2022 General Election will look into this issue, whether FijiFirst party will win again or whatever party, we just want someone who will hear the cries of farmers.
- Questions sent to Agriculture Minister Dr Mahendra Reddy on the claims made by Mr Chand remain unanswered when this edition went to press.