RURAL urban drift continues to rule financial needs of Rabi Islanders resulting in a drop of population from the usual 5000 to about 3000 remaining in villages today.
Rabi Island councillor Titaku Kabung said the limited employment and income earning opportunities had seen people drift to urban areas in search of better income to support their families. The situation has also resulted in other social ills such as school dropouts as parents can't afford to pay for educational expenses.
Mrs Kabung said a major challenge faced by the villagers was the limited marketing opportunities for their products.
"Our men plant a lot of grog and dalo but we mainly concentrate on marketing grog because we have a market readily available for that but it's not all the grog that is being sold to our buyer.
"Sometimes farmers have to look for other markets or sell the grog on the island," Mrs Kabung said.
She said the council had already discussed and identified ways to assist the villagers providing them with income-generating opportunities.
"One of the ways of assisting school dropouts is having the council fund further studies at tertiary level for the dropouts," Mrs Kabung said.
With the opening of the new jetty soon to happen on the island, Mrs Kabung said the council banked on this to present income opportunities.
So far, the women of Rabi have depended on tourist boats such as the Tui Tai and Blue Lagoon Cruises to buy their handicraft items.
"It is a real struggle for the islanders because we don't have a lot of markets available on the island so we also depend on carnivals around Fiji such as the Hibiscus Festival and Friendly North to market our products," Mrs Kabung said.
Women who have used such carnivals, she said had always earned good money.