Duruka is in season

IF you take a drive to some villages you’ll notice a tall, grass-like plant which bears close resemblance to a sugar cane plant.
Commonly known as duruka (saccharum edule or the Fijian asparagus), the popular Fijian vegetable is either sold in bundles or plastic bag packs at the Suva market.
One bundle of 20 costs seven or eight dollars and a bag of 10 costs five dollars. It sure sells like hot cakes! Last Friday we caught up with Lusiana Salusalu and her friends Mereoni Vakaseleasi and Matelita Liku at the Suva market. She leaves her village of Navurevure, Naitasiri every Fridays at 2am and returns on Saturdays at 4pm.
The 66-year-old grandmother of two said she became a market vendor when she first got married. “I sell bananas, duruka, dalo, ota and lemons every week,” said Mrs Salusalu.
“The season for duruka is short. It starts around May and finishes in June. There are different kinds — short, fat red ones which are harvested first and called sevakarua.”
“After that comes the Navua, then we have the duruka makawa. The duruka makawa is also known as duruka wa or duruka balavu and there is another kind called cokecoke.”
She says the season will finish shortly.
“Some enjoy smoked duruka cooked in thick coconut cream.
“Others just like it smoked over the fire with that special aroma that adds flavour to it.
I cook it in thick coconut cream with fish.” From duruka alone, Mrs Salusalu rakes in $100 adding that she makes better money from it compared to other products that come in season in the year.
“When we come to Suva by carrier, we’re charged by our cargo — one bundle of dalo costs a dollar, a big bundle of ota costs two dollars and if it’s a full sack of produce it’s two dollars,” said Mrs Salusalu. “I enjoy coming to the market because I’m able to meet and mingle with other women, share our stories of struggles, and village life progress.
“I have been able to provide food for my family, pay bills and when I have enough money then I’ll buy some kitchenware or utensils, just by selling at the market.”