[Source: Parliament of Fiji]
The increase in agriculture’s fresh and chilled product exports was due to the surplus made during the COVID-19 lockdown.
While presenting the Audit Report relating to the COVID-19 Agriculture Assistance to the Parliamentary Standing Committee, Agriculture Permanent Secretary Dr Vinesh Kumar says the surplus was made from the seedlings programme initiated by the Ministry to help households during the lockdown.
Dr. Kumar says the quantity of vegetables grown increased, as did the number of roadside vegetable stalls.
Agriculture trade at the Sawani Border during the COVID19 lockdown.
“If you see, pre-COVID, we were doing about $50 million, but now when we later review the figures for 2019-2020, we were at $106 million. The recent figures that we released were 2021, which was $126m. We saw that we created a surplus in the urban centre that was picked up by people around us. In the rural setting, we saw they were not supplying to the urban centres; they were supplying to the export markets.”
Dr.Kumar says the seedlings programme was initiated in 2019 and was well utilized during the lockdown as most people were unemployed and were staying at home.