4 Aug 2014

Lack of land hampering Cooks agriculture

5:21 pm on 4 August 2014

A local grower in the Cook Islands says the land available to growers has dramatically declined, which impacts their ability to meet local and tourist demands for fresh produce.

The comments echo those of the Cook Islands Secretary of Agriculture, Dr Matairangi Purea, who says a lack of labour and land is behind a significant decline in fresh local produce.

Vegetable grower, Ro Nga, says growers have lost both a labour force and land to the tourism industry, which limits how much they can grow.

"Because tourism becomes a core interest of our economy, we become available to that area, which minimises the growing area, and minimises the labour force for growers, as a grower in the Cook Islands. So we have to import the labour force from outside the Cook Islands."

Ro Nga says importing workers is costly, and growers also struggle every year with the effects of climate change, and weather uncertainties.