Record decline in produce availability; prices

Figures from the local market survey for December 2020, has revealed an overall decline of agricultural produce availability by 10 per cent and a corresponding increase in prices of 18 per cent. 

The increased prices are in response to lower agricultural supplies at the market. Severe flooding and road closures all negatively impacted produce availability in the month under review

The market data was contained in the monthly “Local Market Survey for December 2020,” issued by the Samoa Bureau of Statistics.

The monthly Market Survey measures the price and volume of selected agricultural produce from the local markets at Fugalei, Taufusi, Vaitele, Afega, Saleimoa, Fasitoo Uta, and Savaia.

One local farmer, Sione Samuelu, told the Samoa Observer that the recent flooding and bad weather affected the supply of vegetables and bananas.

"December was not a good month for us; there was flooding around the town area; we could not come to the town area because some of the fords also experienced flooding," he said.

Mr. Samuelu also said that he has had to increase the prices for some of his vegetables because of the supply drop.

"We are trying to survive as well, the increase of prices was to help us but it was not very successful," he said.

"I hope that there will be no more flooding because not only does it affect traffic but us farmers are also impacted."

The report states that the monthly survey showed a 10 per cent volume decrease last December compared to the month prior.

“This loss in volume was due to heavy rain and flooding which led to decrease in supplies of most agricultural produce with the exception of taro, coconut and breadfruit,” the report said.

It also added that when compared with the same month last year, the current supply was 15 per cent lower. 

The overall price index rose 18 per cent from the previous month due to significant decreases in the agriculture produce supply. When compared with December 2019, last month's overall prices dropped by 3 per cent.

The volume of bananas  supplied to the local markets in December 2020 decreased by 36 per cent to 2,168 kilograms on a monthly basis.

Ta’amu supplies showed a decline of 35 per cent to 37 kilograms from the previous month; limited supply pushed its average price up 145 per cent to $7.96.

The supply of yam fell by 1 per cent to 120 kilograms from the previous month while weakened demand pushed its average price down 14 per cent (to $3.22 per kilogram).  

The statistics bureau also said that due to continued wet weather in December 2020, the supply of vegetable produce resulted in significant losses.

Chinese cabbage supplies fell by 74 per cent while cucumber supplies also decreased by 45 per cent from the previous month. The supplies of head cabbage dropped by 30 per cent followed by pumpkin supplies with a 29 per cent decline in volume, while tomato supplies also fell by 6 per cent.

While there was a decrease in availability of all vegetable produce to the local markets in the month under review, average prices for all vegetables increased.

A total of 232 sellers were at the local markets on the days surveyed in December 2020.

That presence of vendors dropped 26 per cent from the previous month and 27 per compared with the number of sellers in the same month a year ago.

Most agricultural produce sellers did not operate due to severe flooding and road closures on 18 December last year.

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