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Japan helped fund freezer, generator, solar panels and equipment

PORT VILA, Vanuatu (Vanuatu Daily Post March 16, 2009) – In an island where sourcing good earned cash is very difficult, the ‘Butongi fish Project’ located on the south eastern side of Futuna has been overwhelmingly welcomed as a beacon of hope.

Butongi is the Futunese language name given to the traditional method of fish processing and packaging. The final products, made from freshly caught fish, are sent to be sold at market outlets in Vila and Tanna.

With the help of the University of Kitakyushu in Japan supported by the Japanese International Cooperation Agency (JICA), the project has been able to establish a small fishing facility that houses a freezer, generator, solar panels and packaging equipment.

Finding fish and skilled fishermen has never been an issue. In Futuna, teaching the nursery rhymes to kids will always be second to teaching the art of fishing. It is the reason why the island is home to a lot of well known fishermen simply because the child is taught this ancient art during early years of childhood.

However getting the products to the market is their ‘goliath’. Ships visiting once every 183 days have not helped either with their cause. Therefore, the project has to resort to the more costly airfreight option.

But locals are confident that people will opt for the butongi because it is healthier than the canned foods being sold in shops around town. Freshly baked fish contains a lot of rich protein.

Purchasing the butongi means contributing to development of the island, shedding light to the future and giving hope to local community. That is the reason that fuels their determination in perfecting their products to be more appreciated and sought after by shoppers in the urban centres. Project coordinators have advised that if you want to have a bite of the butongi, you can call Johnson Kaua on 7746758 to place an order.

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