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SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, Dec. 13) – A yaqona [Fiji kava] farming youth project in Fiji set up five years ago is slowly reaping rewards for a small village with 80 people whose only source of income was working as laborers in the nearby cane farms.

Members of the Vuinakawakawa Youth Group believe it is this project that would help uplift the standard of living in their village in years to come.

And with the supply of electricity in the village last week, the youths are now planning to invest into a yaqona-pounding machine to make more money.

[PIR editor’s note: The villagers of Vuinakawakawa in the interior of Labasa - located on the northern coast of Vanua Levu island in Fiji - were supplied with electricity nearly 13 years after they first applied to the authority for power (read related story).]

President of the group, Marika Waqavanavana said 10 youths are involved in the project and they had a 50-acre farm to work on.

He said most of the yaqona was sold at the Labasa market while some was kept for functions in the village and other cultural obligations.

Mr. Waqavanavana said members of the group were harvesting cane before they got involved in the current project.

He said all of them have a small savings now, have been able to build good homes and are able to meet their expenses without worrying about their next meal.

Mr. Waqavanavana said the youths go to the farm at 7 a.m. with their food and return by 5 p.m. He said some of them enjoyed a few bowls of yaqona before going to bed while others just preferred having their dinner and sleeping.

Mr. Waqavanavana said the group was thinking of expanding the farm so that more jobs could be created.

He said planting yaqona and being self employed was better than working as laborers in cane fields where the work was hard and the pay was less.

December 14, 2005

Fiji Times Online: http://www.fijitimes.com.

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