The revival of the Naividamu Cocoa Project by the villagers in the Macuata Province after it was also left abandoned about thirty years ago, was applauded by Minister for Agriculture, Waterways and Environment, the Hon. Dr Mahendra Reddy.During his visit to Naividamu Village.
The Minister was informed that the village had restarted the cocoa project on seven acres of the 30 acre land set aside for it. He was told that the project had already harvested and sold 26kgs of wet cocoa beans.
“I am very pleased to hear that you have decided to re-start the cocoa project. “This is the kind of agriculture we are promoting now; where farmers start off on their own first.
It is when we see that you have begun your agriculture activity, then we will come in to assist you so that you can increase your production,” he said.
“We are extremely encouraged to know that you have kick start this project; that is what we want. You need to make it a viable project.”Dr Reddy said the Naividamu Cocoa Project was similar to the Nawailevu Cocoa Project where both and a few others were left abandoned some thirty years ago.
The Hon. Minister was also informed of other projects the village was actively participating in such as the production of Virgin Coconut Oil (VCO) by the women’s group, and rice production that had begun in 2018 where one acre was utilized as a demonstration plot, where 1.8tonnes was harvested and slowly continuing.
“I am very glad to know that Naividamu Village is involved in various agricultural projects as mentioned. I urge you to continue and also have the mindset that those projects are actually your businesses; you are agriculture entrepreneurs,” he said.“We will continue to provide you with technical assistance so that you will also start to think to increase your production so you can supply to the local market, where at the moment farmers are not able to meet the demand.”
“However at the moment, I know you are growing rice for your consumption only. But think out of the box, and think about growing for the market. We will find the market for your rice, all you need is to grow. We will also provide the rice seeds at no cost to you,” he said.
The Turaga ni Yavusa Ligaulevu, of Naividamu Village, Macuata, Mr Apenisa Rawaqa, 68yrs, speaking in itaukei said the Hon. Minister was the first to visit the village.He said he had lived through previous governments and none came to visit them, hence his sincerest gratitude.
Mr Rawaqa said the visit also demonstrated that Government truly cared about their plight.
Previously, he said, when the village needed assistance, the village elders had to travel to Suva. But with the visit of Dr Reddy, it was something he would not forget.
The Turaga ni Yavusa hoped that future governments would follow in the current government’s footsteps.