Farmers to prepare for export market

Vanuatu’s Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Ni-Vanuatu Business says work is underway to prepare Vanuatu to start exporting its local products, including root crops, to three main markets overseas.

The Director General for the Ministry of Trade, Tourism and Ni-Vanuatu Business, Roy Micky Joy, announced the initiative during the 40 year anniversary of Independence festivities.

Director General Joy, said over the past 39 years the export of local food has not been properly established due to many reasons.

He told farmers during the Independence celebrations that the country is now ready to target markets in Australia, New Zealand and New Caledonia.

He says the markets will be developed through a positive partnership between the Vanuatu ministries of trade and agriculture.

Mr Joy says last year the departments of agriculture and trade signed a new cooperation agreement – the Le Life Lonnoc Framework of Cooperation. The framework addresses issues related to the increase of domestic production and adding value to products to meet the requirements and standards required for exporting overseas.

“[The agreement’s] results have been quite overwhelming, we have seen for the first time that the Vanuatu productive sector is ready for the export market,” Mr Joy said.

“I believe the time’s right and proper to start seriously considering what we can produce in Vanuatu for the export market.”

Mr Joy confirmed once borders reopen, a delegation will travel firstly to New Caledonia and New Zealand to finalise the last arrangements with the Governments of these two countries and some companies there.

The Ministry of Agriculture says local farmers must, however, be able to produce and feed the population of  Vanuatu before they can start exporting large amounts of local food to overseas markets.

The Director General for the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Fisheries and Bio-Security, Moses Amos, says, “We must firstly address production for the domestic market before we can talk about the export market.”

“There must be a consistency in supplies locally and for export. Once the export market opens to us, if we have not built up the production of goods for local consumption, we will run short on what we can supply to the export market,” he says.

Mr Amos says Vanuatu still imports tomato, carrot and potatoes because the country cannot yet consistently meet the local demand for supply of these products.

“It is not the farmers’ fault, farmers are willing to work but it is our role at the ministry to go back and assist farmers,” he said.

He outlined the assistance that should be provided to farmers, such as tractors to increase production.

“We want to ensure every 72 area secretaries have at least one tractor supported by relevant technical tools, planting materials and human resources,” Mr Amos said.

The Director-General says the COVID-19 outbreak has forced the Government to look at how it can decrease dependence on international aid in a way that brings money and growth back to the economy.

Mr Amos has called on farmers to start cultivating their land and planting local root crops and vegetables to prepare themselves for when export markets open.

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