Surviving on seafood sales

MOST people are cautious when they buy seafood and tend to go for quality rather than the price.

If you’re one of those people then drop by Lusiana Qalowaqa’s stall in the Suva Municipal Market seafood corner.

The 38-year-old will tease your tastebuds with the variety of seafood delicacies she sells at cheap prices.

Originally from Naivuruvuru in Verata, Tailevu she has been a market vendor for three years and resides in Cunningham stage one with her husband and together they support their four children.

Mrs Qalowaqa said her decision to be a market vendor emerged when she got bored staying home — so she started to sell vegetables at a stall at the Suva Municipal Market.

She sells four days a week from Wednesdays to Saturdays and could earn $300 or more on a good day.

Her produce in a day includes nama and lumi sold at an affordable price.

She said she only sells seafood on Tuesdays and Wednesdays and begins selling vegetables such as eggplants, cucumbers, cabbages, rourou, chillies, lemons and root crops from Thursdays to Saturdays.

“The seafood I sell is not mine, I’m just selling it on behalf of my friend who is also a market vendor,” Ms Qalowaqa said.

She said the decision to help her friend sell seafood arouse after her friend requested her.

“My friend lives in Namuaimada, Rakiraki so I decided to help her out because she lives faraway from town and also since traveling to and fro would be difficult and expensive for her.

“My friend usually sends a 10kg or 25kg bag of nama and lumi sold for $2 a heap. The 10kg bag is $60 while the 25kg bag is $80 a bag,” she said. Mrs Qalowaqa said her friend usually joined her on Fridays and returned back to her Namuaimada home on Saturday evenings.

Like any other market vendor her program starts at 9am every selling day and ends around 5pm or 6pm on busy days.

Mrs Qalowaqa said she bought her produce from the middlemen in Suva and sold it to customers.

She buys a bucket of lemons for $25, $30 to $40 for a bag of cucumbers and eggplants for $35 a bag.”

When asked about the challenges faced she said some produce bought from middlemen were expensive and this affected business because her prices had to increase too which was not good for customers. “Vegetables are expensive during off-seasons, but when it’s in season everything is cheap.”

She encouraged unemployed women to step out of their comfort zones and invest their time in such small business ventures to earn money for their families as times were hard and everyone needed to have some form of income to survive.

Mrs Reki says she has never regretted her decision to be a market vendor as it is earning her an income for the family.

She said her family was enjoying an improved way of life compared to when she was a stay at home mum.

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