FIJI DALO THEFT GROWING CONCERN

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Crops plundered in Cakaudrove

SUVA, Fiji (Fiji Times, August 18, 2009) – THE vanua of Cakaudrove meets today to discuss the high incidence of dalo theft.

The development comes after the police were sent to set up camp on an island to catch the dalo thieves who plunder mature plantations and sell them off as their own.

The Tui Cakau's spokesperson, Epeli Matata, said the issue was of great concern because of its frequency.

"We understand the plight of farmers that has been highlighted by the Fiji Times and we know that it is shared equally," he said. "Even the landowners are facing theft."

Mr Matata added, however, it was unfair to blame village youths.

"The vanua would like to help and that is why the issue will be brought up when the mataqali Valelevu meets," he said. "It will be too easy to point the finger at village youths since we've had cases in the past where farmers actually stole from other farmers with bigger plantations."

Dalo farmers at Qila, settled by some of the wealthiest farmers on the island, said they have lost thousands of dollars worth of the crop to thieves.

Farmer Narayan Pardeshi said they were fed up of the huge losses they wake up to everyday.

Assistant police spokesperson Atunaisa Sokomuri said prosecution would be mandatory against those caught stealing. "We have to address this problem now," he said.

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