The role of agro-exporters in the market component of the agriculture sector was acknowledged by Agriculture Minister Hon. Dr. Mahendra Reddy as an integral part of the primary industry.

This was relayed by Hon. Reddy during a consultative meeting held at the Maqere Exports office in Vatia, Tavua with farmers of Vatia and neighboring settlements.

“Exporters play a very critical role in the market component of the sector, they’re part of a four-pronged model consisting of the hospitality market inclusive of hotels and resorts, the tertiary institutes and education providers, the local municipal markets and external markets.

“All of these markets are equally massive in size and are equally important as they are providing the much needed revenue for primary industries like agriculture, we are referring to primary commodities that are being supplied through agriculture,” he said.

Hon. Reddy recognized the contribution of exporters to the national economy as they had secured reliable and growing export markets for local commodities.

However, Minister Reddy also highlighted the reality of changes in consumer preference, tastes and behavior which needed to be taken into account to ensure a sustainable relationship between these external markets and local exporters.

“What we export out of Fiji are mostly commodities that we want to also convert to products, we must go a step further and value-add to these primary commodities so that we can enter the mainstream markets in Australia and New Zealand.

“Right now, we’re reliant on former Fiji residents, and former Pacific Island residents as our primary overseas markets, well and good but that is not the future because in the meantime their taste and preferences are still accustomed to locally produced commodities,” said Hon. Reddy.

“They will continue to consume because they want to support Fiji but what happens after them? The next generation of islanders who are born there, their children and grandchildren? Let’s not restrict ourselves to our usual markets, let’s target all consumers in Australia and New Zealand who purchase their produce from wholesale supermarkets and for that to happen, we need to produce quality products, quality commodities and also consider value-addition,” he added.

Maqere Exports was also praised for their contributions to developing and uplifting the standard of farmers’ livelihoods along Vatia and adjacent farming communities in rural Tavua through the provision of an export market in the area for select commodities.