The National, Monday March 17th, 2014
FRESH produce farmers, middlemen and major buyers will meet for the first time to plot the future of the million-kina industry.
The thrust of the discussions during the inaugural two-day horticultural value chain conference would be to work out how local producers could take advantage of the 60% share of the fresh produce market that is open to them.
Organised by the Fresh Produce Development Agency (FPDA), the meeting will be held in Port Moresby next week.
Noel Kuman of FPDA told The National last Friday that the meeting was crucial because middle buyers who purchased directly from villagers and smallholders would be able to meet with their major clients mainly in the catering and supermarket sectors.
“Up until six months ago, we (FPDA) had no idea what percentage of the fruits and vegetables market was open to local producers.
“But having spoken to people in catering and supermarkets, we now know that there is a huge opportunity for local producers.”
Kuman said vegetable-growing supported the livelihood of about 80% of the rural folk, so they do not need to be told how to do.
All that needed to be done was to improve markets and transport infrastructure for their produce to end up in markets and a monetary return was made for the producers.
It is a lucrative industry and producers should be encouraged and given the opportunity to make money out of their work, Kuman said.
The would bring managers of catering firms such as Eurest, NCS, Alliance Group (owned by NCS but operating independently), IPI and supermarket chains Papindo, Stop N Shop supermarkets, SVS, Foodworld and RH Hypermarts.