Not enough milk – Prices force mothers to give baby gruel made from cassava

Loraini Nailatikau with her one-year-old daughter during an interview with this newspaper at a popular supermarket in Suva. Picture: ELENA VUCUKULA

Soaring milk product prices is forcing mothers and carers of infants and young children to resort to gruel made from cassava and other crops.

Loraini Nailatikau, a mother of five children, said over the past few years the cost of nearly all food items had increased to a point that required careful budgeting.

“Right now my husband is the only one working and supporting the family,” the 38-year-old Cunningham resident said.

“For my one-year-old daughter, I always use Rewa powder milk.

“When she was six months, I was giving her SMA baby formula, but when she turned a year old, I started to give her powdered milk because everything started to increase so much that we couldn’t afford formula anymore.”

Ms Nailatikau said two packets of the 450 grams Rewa full cream milk at $7.95 each were purchased weekly for her young daughter alone.

A packet of Red Cow powdered milk is being retailed at between $9-$10 at stores around the country.

“This morning I grated some cassava and made it for lolo, I didn’t use powdered milk but scraped coconut instead and gave it to her.

“So I only give powdered milk to my daughter when it’s near her nap time.”

She said to reduce their grocery bill, the family has planted cassava and breadfruit in their backyard garden.

“We used to shop weekly before and used to spend about $200, now we can only buy $100 worth of shopping because times are hard.”

For 46-year-old Sera Matala, relying on plant-based or draunimoli tea has taken precedence over powdered milk.

“It’s very expensive, we can’t afford it and it all depends on our pay as low-income families can’t spend on luxury items such as Rewa butter and milk.

“When the price was lower, we used to drink milk every day, my brother’s kid who stays with me is two, and he used to drink milk every day, but now we hardly buy milk.

“We’ve stopped since last year.”

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