The supply of agricultural produce on the market is difficult to quantify due to the large subsis-tence sector and lack of data on commercial production for the domestic market.
However, qualitative assessment by the Ministry of Agriculture provides a feel for market trends. The majority of agricultural produce is consumed domestically and is significantly affected by the tourism industry.
There has been a considerable quantity of vegetables on the market since the harvest season beginning around May-June. The cyclones in the early part of this year had only a minor effect on production. There have also been increases in the price of produce. This has been of benefit to growers, but may have increased the cost of living for some groups in the community.
In recent years the nono industry had emerged to be a viable export earner earning around $3.3 million in 2004 (31% of total exports). However, increased competition in global markets leading to falling prices has dramatically reduced the competitiveness of the local industry. It is understood that prices paid to growers have fallen from around 80 cents per kilo to around 50 cents, but that this is still well above the prices received by growers in other countries. Some growers have already left the industry.
High production costs and distance from export markets make it difficult for agricultural exports to be competitive except in niche markets, and even then it is difficult to maintain competitiveness if other suppliers are able to enter the market.
For this reason the major focus for the agricultural sector is and should remain on subsistence production and commercial production for the domestic market, rather than production for export.
Complete report: MFEM, Half Year Economic and Fiscal Update