A SECOND consignment of 12.9 tonnes of dalo is expected to leave for the Chinese market on October 15 as farmers in Tailevu, Rewa and Naitasiri are now encouraged to produce specific varieties of dalo.
The varieties — uro-ni-vonu, jabeni, korosi and dalo-ni-toga - are apparently in demand by Chinese buyers, according to a statement from the Department of Agriculture.
Now that the farm gate price for the four varieties are $2 per kilogram for A-grade dalo and $1 per kg for B-grades, the department is pushing farmers to plant twice as much as their current production.
The invitation to produce the dalo varieties has also been extended to farmers in Ra following a visit by Prime Minister Commodore Voreqe Bainimarama to China in June this year.
Agricultural Marketing Authority (AMA) marketing manager Alivereti Yaya said one of the markets in China expressed interest after tasting the different varieties of dalo from Fiji.
"The first shipment of 11 tonnes of dalo has been sent to Nigbo Port in China on September 5 - AMA will provide transportation from the farm gate." Crop Extension director Uraia Waibuta said even though the farmers had been encouraged to plant the four varieties, there were other factors to consider like food security and current exports of the tausala variety to neighbours Australia and New Zealand.
"Strategies have been put in place for this particular export destination and agriculture officials will be assisting through technical advice and visits," he said.
The department says the uro-ni-vonu variety will be centred on the flatlands of Tailevu, Rewa and Naitasiri where machines can be utilised for cultivation.
Jabeni, korosi and dalo-ni-toga will be focused in Ra and Naitasiri where the varieties are already flourishing for the local market.
The biggest challenge for farmers, Mr Waibuta says, is the rapid multiplication of planting materials and distribution of suckers to the farmers.