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SUVA, Fiji Islands (April 24, 2001 – Radio Australia)---Fiji's caretaker government is pursuing efforts to establish a pearl industry in the country.

As Radio Australia correspondent Ofa Kaukimoce reports, the government is also trying to privatize its black pearl farm at Savusavu on the northern island of Vanua Levu.

"An American company is currently considering helping the government establish a pearl industry.

"A feasibility study is being conducted.

"Agricultural Secretary Peniasi Kunatuba says the industry could be established over the next 18 months and could be worth 10 million Fiji dollars (US$ 4.4 million) a year.

"He says the ministry has identified various sites for pearl farming around the country.

"The pearl farm at Savusavu has been costing the government at least 100,000 Fiji dollars (US$ 44,000) a year to maintain.

"Ofa Kaukimoce, Radio Australia, Suva."

For additional reports from Radio Australia, go to PACIFIC ISLANDS REPORT News/Information Links: Radio/TV News/Radio Australia.

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