Weather blamed for "astronomical" cost of veggies

The authorities encourage members of the public to eat more vegetables.

But if the cost of vegetables, which some consumers have described as "astronomical" is anything to go by, many people are going without. If you have been a constant visitor to the supermarket and the local markets, you will find that the cost of vegetables during the past few weeks has skyrocketed. 

Take for example in early February, you can find locally grown vegetables such as Chinese cabbage for $3.00 tala a bundle, cucumber and tomato packet for $6 tala and a medium sized pumpkin for $7.00 tala. 

The prices vary between supermarkets and roadside markets but the difference was a couple of cents. 

Fast forward a month later, the cost for those locally grown produces has doubled and tripled.

Another walk in the supermarkets’ you will find the cost of Chinese cabbage has increased to $8 tala per kilo, pumpkin is $5 tala per kilo, and a bag of cucumber is $10 tala. 

Step outside where the smaller markets are; cost of Chinese cabbages range from $5tala to $7tala a bundle, $12tala for a medium size pumpkin and $8tala for cucumbers. 

One of the workers at a local supermarket said the increase is mainly caused by the rate the farmers are selling produces to the supermarkets and profit is added on top of that.  

On the other hand, Ronnie Malaki of Aleisa blamed the hot weather causing growers to push up the costs. 

“Our plantations are going through a stage where produces are spoiled and infected if you don’t pick them early,” said Mr. Malaki. 

“If you look at the pawpaw being sold, they are quite green and they are picked early because if you don’t it gets spotty over it and it will eventually become spoiled before its ready to eat. 

“Similarly with banana and taro planation…the leaves are turning yellow and its not the taro leaf plight it is a different kind of disease. I believe it is the change in the weather and especially the hot temperature that is drying up the soil affecting the growth of produces.” 

According to Mr. Malaki, while there are a lot of factors affecting the cost of produces to go up, the farmers too are trying their best to sell their produce at a reasonable cost. 

The father of four sells a range of vegetables, banana and taro at Siusega. 

While he is mindful of the factors affecting their produces, he feels the Government through the Ministry of Agriculture is not doing enough awareness on the diseases found in certain vegetables.

This way the farmers will be in a better position to work on how they can save their produces from being spoiled he said. 

Despite the problems the farmer is facing, Mr. Malaki said he usually negotiates the price of his produces so that buyers are given the option of eating healthy. 

A vegetable grower, Mataniufeagaimaleata Faleniu Ah Lam, shared similar concern. 

She pointed out it has been challenging to grow vegetables with the heat. 

“The hot weather is really affecting the quality of vegetables and fruits I sell,” she said. 

“Tomatoes will be short for a while because it just wont grow well in this weather. 

“The other produces are managing but you can tell the difference in the sizes being smaller than the normal size of vegetables we used to have in the past years.” 

In reference to the weather, Assistant CEO of the Meteorology Office, Mulipola Titimaea Ausetalia said less rainfall is expected during this period. 

The A.C.E.O. added rivers which used to flow up to September in the past years are all dried up and that is evident of human activities and developments. 

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