FIJI’S NATIVE PLANTS BECOMING SCARCE

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FIJI’S NATIVE PLANTS BECOMING SCARCE

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, May 31) - Native plants are fast becoming rare in many Fijian villages and this will affect traditional values such as knowledge of herbal medicine, says the president of the Macuata Soqosoqo Vakamarama, Adi Sainimili Dyer.

Speaking to women as part of Arbor Week yesterday in Labasa, Sainimili said many Fijian villages around the country hardly planted native trees and this had affected certain traditional practices. An example she highlighted was the ‘voivoi’ or pandanus leaves used for weaving mats.

"The ‘voivoi,’ a native plant which our mothers and grandmothers used for weaving mats is a good example of this as it is hardly seen or grown in Fijian villages and even in our own communities," he said. "With the lack of ‘voivoi’ plants in Fijian villages, the up-coming generation of women can lose touch of the knowledge of weaving mats because the plants are no longer around where older women can teach the younger generation how to weave mats."

She said the lack of native trees in Fijian villages could also affect the area of herbal medicine.

"Herbal medicine or Fijian medicine are from native trees and since such plants are fast becoming rare, villagers can lose knowledge of such medicine and that is why we are emphasizing the planting of more native trees," Sainimili said.

She said Fijian villages were more interested in the planting of mahogany and pine trees.

"This is good as it contributes to their livelihood but concentrating on particular trees only has resulted in the lack of native trees seen in our society," Sainimili said. "People no longer plant native trees and that is why the women of Macuata, as part of Arbor week are exchanging native plants with other villages."

Sainimili said the women from the different districts exchanged native plants. "For example, the women of Mali island brought ‘voivoi’ for the women of Labasa and Wailevu as this is hardly seen in these two areas," she said.

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