FIJI failed to satisfy the export market demand for 31,000 tonnes of dalo last year as only 9000 tonnes of the cash crop left the country.
This was revealed by Agriculture Minister Lieutenant Colonel Inia Seruiratu when he spoke to his Northern staff in Labasa yesterday.
Lt-Col Seruiratu said the market demand for dalo had always existed but farmers faced a lot of problems with its pricing.
"Exporters are leaving in Suva and they pay agents to buy dalo for them, therefore farmers are struggling with the prices set by these agents," he said.
"This has been an age-old issue that needs to be addressed. We had made an agreement in 2010 under which dalo on Taveuni would not be sold below $1.20 a kilogram," he said.
"However, if the farmers are selling their dalo at $1.20 they are still making money, but it is a challenge to address the issue of pricing because it is unregulated."
Lt-Col Seruiratu said agents buying dalo for Suva-based exporters were the ones playing around with the price.
"There is never a shortage of markets but the unregulated price of dalo has been the problem for a long time now.
"The ministry cannot interfere in the issue because it is not regulated."