Seeto: Local farmers can supply fresh produce

Executive chef Lance Seeto. Picture: SHAYAL DEVI

LOCAL farmers have the capacity to supply tourist properties with fresh produce, says Malamala Beach Club executive chef Lance Seeto.

He echoed this sentiment after a study revealed that Fiji spent about $3.2 million a month on imported food for tourists.

The study titled From the farm to the tourist’s table – A study of fresh produce demand from Fiji’s hotels and resorts revealed that Fiji’s import bill for meat, seafood, dairy products, fruits, vegetables and packaged juice was more than $38.5m annually or $3.2m a month.

“If you think about it, our local farmers could have had access to that money,” Mr Seeto said.

“I am a big believer that Fiji, we should be a nation of farmers. The tourism sector has a need for all this produce.

“Now, it’s about Government educating and connecting the farmers to the hotels and chefs so the farmers then begin to understand what they need to plant and as we’ve proven here (at Malamala), over 95 per cent of the produce used here is local.”

He said the beach club only imported a few products that were not available in Fiji.

“So Malamala has become a good role model for this whole approach to food and we need to connect more to the people. “The problem is there are issues like consistency, access and quality. “Sometimes it’s easier for the bigger resorts to import out of Australia and New Zealand because the consistency is there so this is a major thing we have to work on, it’s not impossible.”