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Export volumes up

Repeka Nasiko
Saturday, February 03, 2018

PAPAYA, eggplant, breadfruit and mango export volumes have returned to pre-Severe TC Winston levels thanks to assistance from the New Zealand Government, says Nature's Way Cooperative Ltd.

Nature's Way Cooperative Ltd chief executive officer Michael Brown said the partnership with the New Zealand Foreign Affairs and Trade Ministry had reaped huge rewards for farmers and exporters across the Western Division.

He said a New Zealand aid of $105,000 assisted more than 210 farmers with the distribution of seedlings and agro inputs.

Mr Brown also said farmers were better prepared for natural disasters in the future.

"We have taken a number of important measures with our members to ensure that we are better prepared for future natural disasters, for instance — we have disaster stock of high quality 'Fiji Red' papaya seed that is being held in the event that the crop gets wiped out and we need to replant," he said.

"We have been working with our members to expand the production outside of the Sigatoka Valley and above the flood levels so that we 'don't have all our eggs in one basket', and many other strategies.

"We are also better prepared for disaster rehabilitation following our recent experience working with NZ MFAT after TC Winston and the April 2016 floods."

Mr Brown said in addition to seedling and agro-inputs, NWC had also provided exporter members with a treatment charge rebate valued at $350,000.

"Our experience has been that it is not enough to only support farmers to rehabilitate but we must also offer some assistance to our exporter members to make sure they can survive after a natural disaster and be prepared to resume exporting when the farmers have produce again.

"Our treatment charge rebate is offered equally to all our exporter members for a limited period of time to give them an incentive to return to exports quickly.

"The treatment charge rebate is designed to offset some of the additional high costs that exporters face after a natural disaster."

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