THE shortage of dalo in Taveuni has prompted farmers to go back to their land and plant more after an increase in the farm gate prices of 30 cents.
The jump from $2 to $2.30 per kilogram was the result of a supposed Fiji-wide dalo shortage. And agricultural officer (Taveuni) Rohit Lal said the incentive was good news for farmers.
"This is the first time that farm gate price for taro has risen above $2 a kilogram since 2005," Mr Lal said in a statement from the Ministry of Primary Industries.
"In 2005, the price of dalo rose to as high as $2.50 a kilogram which has been a record for Taveuni in the past 10 years.
"The rise in the price of dalo (on the island) could be traced back to last year when there was a glut in the market in the first six months.
He said the farm gate price for dalo during this period plummeted to a mere 60 cents per kilogram — forcing many farmers to stop dalo production and turn their sights to yaqona farming.
"Farmers in Taveuni plant about 1700 hectares of dalo a year to produce 7000 to 8000 tonnes of dalo a year for the export market," he said.
"Last year, they only planted 1400 hectares and we are seeing the effect of that now."
Mr Lal said the dry spell experienced on the island early last month did not auger well with its high yield, particularly when farmers that grew the tausala variety found it was sensitive to changing weather patterns.
"The dry spell forced the dalo to mature earlier than expected and this also contributed to the gap in supply," Mr Lal said.
"One good thing about the current shortage though and the high price is that it has become an incentive for farmers to start planting again.
"From what we have seen, we are looking forward to a bumper crop this time next year and we won't be surprised if there will be a glut in the market.
"This should be a lesson to all crop farmers that it is important to spread their planting evenly throughout the year so that they will have a steady and continuous supply of produce to the market."