TUI Macuata Ratu Aisea Katonivere has challenged traditional leaders and village elders to address substance abuse by their youths immediately to avoid the consequence of having lazy people in future.
His bold comments come in the wake of concerns raised by youth leaders from the three provinces in Vanua Levu — Cakaudrove, Bua and Macuata — that youths spent less time farming and more time on yaqona consumption.
He said traditional leaders must ensure that village bylaws must making it compulsory for every male youth in the village to own a plantation.
"If we do not do anything now, the situation will get worse and we will have lazy people in our villages in the future because these youths will be future household heads," Ratu Aisea said.
"Parents also play a vital role. They need to teach their children to work hard in life to be successful. So ensuring that all villages have their (male) youths own a farm and is monitored by village leaders should bring about good changes," he said.
The Ministry of iTaukei Affairs has also intervened in working with village leaders to control the number of visitation to villages to prevent long hours of drinking grog during the day.
"That is the reason why we are co-ordinating visits in villages around the country through provincial offices and every visit has to go through provincial offices by notification," Ministry deputy chief executive officer Colonel Apakuki Kurusiga said.
"The provincial offices will work with tikina and village councils on when visits can happen in villages because we want to prevent over visitation, which could result in drinking grog and using up quality time during the day.
"We have received concerns from villages and all provincial offices are now working on that," he said.
He said the situation in some villagers had worsened because youths had become addicted.
"We are working with youths in making them realise the dangers and consequences that has come from over indulging of yaqona, alcohol and drugs.
"The ministry is also working with other government departments to support the youths and help them start off village projects such as farming," Col. Kurusiga said.
These concerns were highlighted by the youth co-ordinators at a workshop in Savusavu.
Concerns were also noted on how village elders were silent over this issue.
Minister for Youth Viliame Naupoto preferred not to comment on the issue except to say that: "We should look at the positive side of the situation because youths have potential skills and talents that can be used to support their families financially. We should encourage them to engage in farming activities."