WITH 30 per cent of Fijians living beneath the poverty line, government says it will only help those that help themselves.
The message was conveyed to a group of villagers last week at the launch of a co-operative which was established and operated by women.
Department of Forestry official Jone Tokairavua told Nasinu villagers in Tailevu that it was important to manage their natural resources on a sustainable basis. "You must remember to replant trees you harvest and plant as many again since there are more of you now," he said.
He hailed the villagers' efforts in organising themselves to comply with Occupational Health Safety requirements and obtain their own logging contract.
But much more was needed to be done on a sustainable basis to promote sustainable living, Mr Tokairavu said.
"First, of all we have to prevent forest fires which are a common feature in the area every dry season. Wild fires are responsible for the loss of the native forest that required pine planting," he said.
Mr Tokairavu said a report from the Bureau of Statistics revealed that most of the 30 per cent of Fijians that lived beneath the poverty line were from rural areas.
He said the co-operative was an avenue for commercial undertakings that would help villagers fight their way out of poverty.
The co-operative will fund a honey making project as one of the many ways identified for generating income in an environmentally-friendly way.
"Your community forestry project has contributed to provide better housing and paid employment to the village. But there are minor forest products that can be harnessed to contribute to economic activity in the village. iTaukei cannot keep blaming others including our fore bearers for our backwardness.
"We have to wake up to the reality that we reap fruits of our own labour,"he said.