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Fertiliser arrives after long wait, but at a higher cost

Monday 10 June 2024 | Written by Losirene Lacanivalu | Published in Environment, Local, National


Fertiliser arrives after long  wait, but at a higher cost
Secretary for Agriculture Temarama Anguna-Kamana

The Ministry of Agriculture has received a shipment of fertilizer to address the shortage faced by farmers, but the cost has increased by $10 per 20-kilogram bag.

After a long wait, farmers in Rarotonga and the Pa Enua can finally purchase fertiliser from the Ministry of Agriculture.

The last container of fertiliser arrived in Rarotonga in November 2023 and was completely sold-out by February this year.

The latest container of fertiliser arrived over a week ago.

Fertiliser and farming inputs have seen a price increase, according to the Ministry of Agriculture.

For example, 20kg bags will now cost $65, up from $55. The ministry attributes this to the nearly $100,000 expense of acquiring a 20-foot container, including supplies, freight, and clearance.

In confirming the latest shipment of fertiliser, Secretary for Agriculture Temarama Anguna-Kamana on Friday, said: “Finally, after a long wait by the growers for the supplies of fertiliser, we received our 20ft container of much needed fertiliser to assist the growers of Rarotonga and the Pa Enua last week.”

“While the ministry has always encouraged the private sector to be involved and take over the role of providing this support, growers still insist that the ministry and government must continue to support the agriculture sector by actively taking part in the supplies of the fertilisers, agriculture chemicals and farming equipment.”

Anguna-Kamana said some farmers have taken the initiative to import and sell fertiliser. 

“This would ensure sufficient supplies are available to all our farmers on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua and encourage private sector growth.”

Anguna-Kamana added fertiliser sales are steady every day and they hope their supplies last until September this year.

The fertiliser shortage issue was brought to public attention by grower and former Agriculture minister Kiriau Turepu, who told Cook Islands News in March this year that Mangaia and Aitutaki farmers were also struggling.

Turepu then said many crops haven’t reached their full economic potential, only reaching half their value due to the lack of fertiliser and chemicals.

He was planning to import a container of fertiliser and chemicals.

“I want to bring in a container of fertiliser and chemicals for myself and give the rest to the growers at cost price to recover the money,” Turepu said in March.

Anguna-Kamana earlier said: “We empathise with our farmers, but we are unable to provide fertiliser if we have none in stock.”

The ministry supplies to over 50 farmers on Rarotonga and the Pa Enua of Aitutaki, Mangaia, Mauke, Atiu, and Mitiaro.