FRUIT and vegetable growers in the Western Division have reported a 25 per cent slump in production because of the unusual cold snap that has affected the area over the past few weeks.
Michael Brown, CEO of Nature's Way Cooperative Limited — the operator of an export produce treatment plant in Nadi — said the only solution to recovering the deficit was for farmers to increase production in areas such as the Sigatoka Valley.
"Our major exports, papaya and eggplant, have really been affected by the cold weather," he said.
"We used to do close to 90 tonnes in total but now we're averaging about 70 to 75 tonnes a month.
"If growers increase their production by 25 per cent then we will be back on track in terms of output."
Mr Brown said another issue that farmers should prepare themselves for was the expected onset of the El Nino phenomenon.
"This will bring in an extended period of dry weather and this will also affect crop production so it is critical that growers prepare themselves accordingly."