IN the hope of eradicating poverty, villagers of Vunivutu and Druadrua in Macuata have embarked on a major coral farming project to generate a source of income for proposed village projects and endeavours.
The project, initiated by Walt Smith International (WSI) has been labelled by villagers as a blessing long overdue.
Vunivutu Village headman Ilisoni Lalai said the project would help them pay off their outstanding church levies, children's school fees and other village expenses.
"Most of us depend on the sea, sugar cane and root crop farming as sources of income and it's difficult to make ends meet because we are financially deprived," Mr Lalai said.
"We're happy about this project. We will continue to work with the company and the government because such projects will surely improve our standard of living."
Druadrua project co-ordinator Aseri Wereivalu shared similar sentiments, saying the villagers lauded the idea and have pledged to work closely with the company to make the project a success.
Company director Walt Smith said the project had been given a three-year contract, with villagers tasked to plant at least 240 coral in a week.
"In a month the villagers can earn about $1000 from such work. This community project is to assist villagers with their livelihood."
For the coral not bought by the company, Mr Smith said it would be embedded into the reef and this would foster a healthier and sustainable marine ecosystem.