WHAT used to be the major source of his family's income is now becoming a grave concern for Taveuni dalo buyer Mukesh Chand.
After selling 20 to 25 tonnes of dalo per week, Mr Chand said farmers had recently decreased their daily supplies prompting his overseas markets to close their doors. Mr Chand said farmers seemed to have lost interest in planting the cash crop which is a major source of income for most farmers on the island.
"To make things worse, markets like Australia have now come in with more demand including their expectation of dalo weight to be 900 grams and over," said Mr Chand.
"Dalo is a crop that absorbs a massive amount of soil nutrients during growth and there is no way of reassuring that all dalo sizes will be 900 grams or more. There have been ways to try and improve the soil nutrient around the island but all this is based on small scale farming. How about the rest of the farmers who would want to farm for commercial purposes?
"If worse comes to worse, we might see farmers going back to farming copra, yaqona and other crops which used to be planted on the island in the past." Mr Chand said yaqona was a crop that continued to rake in thousands of dollars to the island.
Northern principal agricultural officer John Cox said he was not aware of Australia's demand for dalo weighing no less than 900grams. He said, normally dalo weight for export was usually between 800 grams and one kilogram.
"We're currently facing a dalo shortage in the country because of the dry season experienced. When there is large supply of dalo, middlemen will buy dalo with an average of 800 grams to 3kg at the cost of $2.30 per kilogram," he said.