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Fiji Time: 2:12 AM on Thursday 24 July

/ Front page / Business

Price concerns

Ropate Valemei
Monday, January 28, 2013

DRY weather conditions and the impact of Tropical Cyclone Evan last year have forced market vendors in Suva to increase the price of vegetables.

And the move has become yet another burden on many customers, adding to the high cost of living.

Susana Ranadi, 45, a frequent Suva market consumer could not believe the cost of some vegetables for sale at the Suva market.

She said the price of vegetables did not match the quantity and quality on display.

"I cannot believe five eggplants cost $2 and one small English cabbage costs $3. This is daylight robbery for customers," she said.

Tailevu resident, Lepani Tule, 56, said the marked had changed because of the competition between market vendors on the price of vegetables post-cyclone or natural disaster.

"I am in Suva for two days and have witnessed the accelerating price of vegetables," Mr Tule said urging the public to start backyard gardening as a means of saving money.

However, 61-year old Gyan Iswar says the cost of vegetables on sale depends on the cost of buying in bulk from suppliers.

"If the bulk cost is high, the retail price will be high," he said. The Narere market vendor used to buy 25 kilogrammes of eggplant from Sigatoka for $10 to $20 but was now paying $45 for the same quantity.

"Times are hard and we need to survive as well. I earn around $30 a day but the cost of the table and plastic is deducted again. We earn little every day," he said.

A market vendor of a Chinese descent told this newspaper all the vegetables were off-season since the beginning of the year.

"This is not a good time for farmers and market vendors because all the vegetables are off-season," she said.

Consumer Council Fiji chief executive officer Premila Kumar said they were aware of the issue because consumers were complaining.

"This is the case after every natural disaster or when the export demand increases," Mrs Kumar said.

"The increase in price of vegetables is due to TC Evan that badly affected the agricultural sector. Price is determined by demand and supply. Short supply of fruits and vegetables in the market has pushed up the price.

"Sadly, consumers are facing the full brunt of this by forking out more from their pockets and unfortunately, there is not much that can be done as vegetables are not under price control." She urged vendors and vegetable farmers to sell their produce at a reasonable price that was fair to consumers.

Consumers were also encouraged to shop around for vegetables at a better bargain, start a backyard garden and resort to dried pulses for a few meals to balance the cost.


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