According to the Agriculture Ministry, Fiji’s import bill for fresh fruit stands at $21.4 million annually. Another $0.33 million is spent on buying of processed fruit. This is a trend that lead into a trade deficit that the Ministry will accept. Reducing the trade deficit through the importation of fruits and vegetables remains a key priority of the Fijian Government.
Agriculture Development Deputy Secretary Jone Sovalawa says there is potential to reduce these imports by 50% through producing more local fruits. Local fruit such as banana, papaya and pineapple are meeting the tourism needs while apples, oranges, pears and grapes are being imported.
Fbcnews.com.fj quoted Sovalawa as saying: “Under the Establishment of the Fruit Tree Orchards initiative, the Ministry will ensure the setting up of organised orchards of selected fruits in strategic locations to make fruits readily available to locals as well as to our ever-growing tourism industry and for our export markets.”
The newly introduced fruit tree varieties will be available to farmers to boost existing production for import substitution and export promotion while also supporting the fruit industry. In addition, the Ministry of Agriculture will continue its research for high yielding varieties that have low production costs, are pest and disease tolerant and resilient to the effects of climate change.