March records 30 per cent drop in market produce

Local markets across Samoa stocked 30 per cent less produce last month, with nearly 30 per cent less farmers setting up shop compared to February, the Samoa Bureau of Statistics reports. 

The value of the country’s fruit and vegetables fell by nearly the same down to $43,000, driven by the decrease in the supplies. With the exception of ta’amu, all agricultural produce shown significant decreases in volume. 

It means overall supply of produce as driven the price index up 11 per cent from February.

The only product on the rise, ta’amu, increased in supply by 47 per cent last month from the month before, and prices have remained largely unchanged, though seven per cent cheaper than a year ago.  

The biggest fall in supplies were in yams, which dropped 72 per cent from February, and a weak demand for it drove average price down to just $3.54 per kilogram (kg), 17 per cent less than average. It is among the lowest levels and prices for yam supply since last year. 

Bananas have taken a significant hit, with a 43 per cent drop on an already low figure. February supply had dropped 59 per cent from January which saw a record high supply of 6,000 kilograms (kg). In March, markets had less than 1,000 kg. That low supply meant prices have gone down a further five percent to $10.6 per kilogram. Banana accounted for two per cent of produce value. 

Breadfruit supplies were down 42 per cent last month down to just 300 kilograms, that being hotly sought after cost 62 per cent more than its average price. The supply, while low, is still much higher than this time last year, and the average price has gone up 11 per cent since March 2019.

The supply of coconut has also fallen a lot, by 30 per cent down to just 4,708 kg last month after more than 9,000 kgs were recorded in January.  But strong domestic demand means prices went up by two per cent to $0.91 per kg. Coconuts were worth 10 per cent of all produce value. 

Taro supplies fell by 11 per cent this month due to weak domestic demand. As a result, the price went down by a percent to $2.39 per kg. Only a year ago, a kg of taro cost $2.77, during a year where the supply level basically did not change and prices dropped five per cent. 

But taro accounted for the most value among the produce, with a share of 43 per cent in March.

All the vegetables included in the survey showed decreases in supply too. Head cabbage, tomato, pumpkin, Chinese cabbage and cucumber all dropped in volume compared to the month before. Pumpkin accounted for 31 per cent of the value of all produce last month, and cucumber accounted for seven per cent. Head cabbage was worth two percent. 

But their prices have either remained steady or increased. Head cabbage is at a high, costing nearly $16 tala per kg as supplies fell 79 per cent from February, which recorded even lower levels than in January.

Just tomato prices went down, by just two percent to $19.56 per kilogram.  

The markets included in the survey are: Fugalei, Taufusi, Vaitele, Afega, Saleimoa, Fasitootai, Savaia and Salelologa, and surveys are conducted on Thursdays for rural markets on Upolu and Savaii and Fridays for urban markets on Upolu.

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