‘Duty drop to affect farmers’

Korotari vegetable farmer Ileshni Lata minds her bean plants which were damaged by heavy rain. Picture LUKE RAWALAI

THE decrease in import duty for fresh fruits and vegetables could affect local farmers, says Lautoka Residents and Ratepayers Association president Narend Reddy.

While welcoming some aspects of the 2018-2019 National Budget, he said, he was concerned about the reduction in duty on fruits and vegetables from 5 per cent to 0 per cent.

“I think there’s a loophole in that decrease because it will affect our local farmers who survive on the sale of fresh fruits and vegetables,” he said.

“If you go to the Lautoka market, you will see all of the stalls selling fruits and vegetables.

“What will happen to these market vendors and to our local farmers when the import of these fresh fruits and vegetables increases.

“These local farmers and vendors will be affected.”
He said while he understood the decision was to encourage a healthier life, fresh local produce was equally healthy.
“I think farmers should have been given more incentives to plant more so we could decrease our imports.
“By decreasing our import duty on fruits and vegetables we will only increase our import bill.”

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