Levuka, Fiji – Local markets in Levuka town on the eastern coast of Ovalau are set up in tents towards the sea side and stretches out in the middle of town. There are around 80 to 100 market vendors operating at the town market who are from Ovalau and Moturiki Island in the Lomaiviti Province. All whom are also producers that bring their produce to the market on Saturdays and a few during the weekdays.
Petero Yavala sells his produce such as vegetables, fish, root crops and fruit juice at the market every Monday to Saturday. He comes from Natokalau village, where his house and farm were partially damaged by Tropical Cyclone Winston last year. He has been operating his farm and market business for over 30 years.
Mr. Yavala was among the 45 market vendors who were interested in developing their market business and participated in the Continuing Market Business Education (CMBE) training for market vendors provided by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) in partnership with Westpac Bank, and held at the Levuka Town Hall. The training was composed of two parts, Financial Literacy and Improve Your Market Business, including topics on produce presentation, customer relations and record keeping practice.
“I was impressed by the topic of budgeting. I used to spend as much as I earned and did not save much. By budgeting I can manage my income and expenses better and improve my farming and market business,” said Mr. Yavala.
“Saving would allow me to repair my house so that my grown-up sons now living in Suva can come home anytime they like,” he added.
The training was also conducted on Motoriki Island at the request of market vendors living there, in which 38 women and men from seven villages i.e. Yanuva, Navuti, Nasesara, Savunaca, Naicabebe, Wawa and Nasauvuki participated. Many of them sell their produce at the Levuka market and some even go to Nausori and Suva to sell crabs where they could expect to earn more profit.
Amelia Naituku from Nasesara village joined her companions in the training conducted in Navuti village. Her produce includes cassava and other root crops, coconuts and vegetables, and on Saturdays she catches fish and sells them.
“I asked the trainer about opening a bank account. I used to keep money at home but saving in a bank account would be more secure and safe. I will save money and buy a boat so I can also market my produce in Nausori and Suva,” Ms. Naituku said.
The Levuka Town Council Chief Executive Officer, Josese Rakuita encouraged the participants in his closing remarks.
“I am certain that the knowledge generated through the training will now increase the financial returns of your market produce, and improve other factors of your lives such as your leadership skills, product development and healthy living.
He added, “The onus is now on you to implement the knowledge gained through the training and improve your financial and social status.”
The training programme has been provided to market vendors at 10 municipal markets in Fiji between November 2014 to 2016 and this year it has extended to rural producers along with market vendors at the Levuka and Savusavu markets. The CMBE programme has also been provided to communities of rural producers, aiming to reduce exclusion of rural market vendors. To date, 2,100 market vendors in Fiji have been trained under the CMBE programme and learners have been presented with certificates of participation.
The Continuing Market Business Education is delivered as part of the Markets for Change project, a six-year, multi-country initiative that aims to ensure marketplaces in rural and urban areas of Fiji, Solomon Islands and Vanuatu are safe, inclusive and non-discriminatory, promoting gender equality and women’s empowerment. A UN Women project, Markets for Change is implemented in partnership with UNDP and supported by the Australian Government.