THE Northern Division supplies an average of 50 cattle to middlemen in Viti Levu every week.
Director Animal Health and Production under the Department of Agriculture Tomasi Tunabuna said the quantity of supply usually increased during festive season because people ordered meat for special functions like birthdays, Christmas and wedding celebrations, among other occasions. However, Mr Tunabuna said cattle under 200 kilograms were not qualified for marketing because they were undersized.
He said those over 200kg were often sold at a value of $500 to $600 to the middlemen.
"Farmers sell directly to the middlemen where butcheries like Tebara Meats and Fiji Meats Industry Board (FMIB) buy from daily," Mr Tunabuna said.
"The prices of the cattle vary depending on the negotiations made between the farmers and the middlemen," he said.
He added the butchers also had their own charges to the middlemen, which were determined from the dress weight — the weight of cattle after it had been cleansed.
With the establishment of another new slaughterhouse in Tabia outside Labasa Town, Mr Tunabuna said this would see to money being retained within the northern economy instead of spending extra cost to transport cattle or carcasses to Viti Levu.
"Supplying cattle to Viti Levu may sound good in terms of production but it doesn't really benefit the community because there is a high rate of monetary linkages which should be contained locally," he said.
"This also shows the level of exploitation, especially by the middlemen where most farmers have no control over."
He said the new slaughterhouse would help in cost reduction, high market prices, creation of employment and lower bio-security risks.