Speaking at the Pacific Regional Business Conference, Michael Brown, CEO of Nature’s Way Cooperative, said import restrictions on Fijian produce cost the island nation more than F$5m (US$2.83m) in export earnings over the past decade, the Fijian Times reported. This figure included losses of F$3m to growers and F$0.9m in treatment revenue for Nature's Way Cooperative.
Mr Brown said Fiji could provide breadfruit, eggplant and ginger to Australia, papaya and breadfruit to the US and wi, bitter melon, gourds and jackfruit to NZ. Access to these markets, however, was denied because of issues over access submissions, unrealistic policies and political interference.
“Unrealistic policies like Australia’s one product per country policy for market access approval for Pacific Islands means it takes two lifetimes to get approval for all the products we have a market for,” said Mr Brown.
“It took about eight years to get papaya to Australia, for example,” he added.
“And then you have political interference from the Australian taro and papaya industries and interest groups putting up blockades against Fiji.”
He added, unrealistic standards that necessitated stringent treatment requirements and inspection protocols caused unnecessary costs to local exporters.