NAVOSA is well-known in the country as the biggest marijuana supplier and for the past decades attempts to stop this illegal operation has proved futile.
In fact, highlanders have benefitted a lot from the sales of marijuana, purchasing expensive vehicles, building good homes and purchasing luxury household items.
Past reports state that because of the transportation problem and scattered location of the villages in the highlands, people have resorted to marijuana cultivation because of the easy way of getting money.
The government has recently introduced new forms of income-generating sources to substitute marijuana but unfortunately many highlanders are still resorting to drug cultivation.
And with the authorities' commitment to fight against marijuana, the Fiji Police Force has launched Operation Cavutia in its effort to wash-out marijuana cultivation in the highlands.
Cavutia is a word from the Navosa dialect which simply means to uproot.
Committed to their oath and call of duty amid the difficulties, challenges and limited resources, police officers in Keiyasi, Navosa silently shoulder their obligation for the good of the people.
The Fiji Times caught up with these brave officers during its tour to Navosa highlands last week and were thrilled to hear and see the struggle encountered by these heroic men to fulfil their mission.
We could not believe our eyes when we saw a group of police officers on horseback carrying matured marijuana plants. The plants were more than two metres in height and ready for the market.
Unlike many police officers countrywide, Navosa police do not have a vehicle but they instead use horses as the main form of transportation.
According to the Station Officer at Keiyasi Police Station, Inspector Uraia Davu, who was leading a 10-member police team in the fight against drug cultivation, his men were not disheartened with the unavailability of usual transportation and like true and dedicated servants, they regarded this weakness as their strength.
Insp Davu said the team camped in the highlands of Navosa for a week and it was through this camp that they identified three marijuana farms.
They managed to uproot 290 mature marijuana plants with an estimated street value of more than $200,000.
He said despite the many awareness and government campaigns to stop marijuana cultivation, it was sad to see that villagers were still cultivating the drug.
"We spent five days camping in the Nasikawa highlands and at the same time we visited settlements and villagers spreading the gospel to put a stop to drug cultivation," said Insp Davu.
"We also discovered that drug cultivation is ongoing in the hills because some of the settlements we visited, the house owners vacated their homes.
"So at night we slept at some of these homes and there was no sign of the owners to be seen. These are some of the signs that proved marijuana cultivation is still on in the highlands.
"Some of these nights we never slept nor ate but we never complained because we know we are doing our duty bestowed on us by the government," he said.
There is a saying — they can burn the leaves and destroy the plants but they forget about the seeds. As such, many people believe marijuana cannot be eradicated.
However, Insp Davu said they were not fighting a losing battle despite the existence of marijuana cultivation in the highlands for decades.
He said they would not let their guard down despite the many reports of marijuana cultivation emerging in the highlands.
"The main purpose of this week-long camp was to 'cut the neck' of the drug lords — which means to target the root problem as in this case the cultivators. We are targeting to destroy the plants and the seeds in the farms and these are the reasons we are targeting the cultivators.
"We will not stop until we fulfil our mission."
The police officers were always inspired in their work when they arrive home after each raid to see their loved ones preparing traditional feast welcoming the brave officers back from the mountainous terrain.
"Every time we return from camping in the highlands we are always humbled with the reception back home," said Insp Davu.
"This kind of support motivates us to work harder and to forget the difficulties we encountered in our fight against drugs.
"I always told the officers that we are here in Navosa not because it's our choice but we are chosen and the call of duty.
"We have a role to play and despite the hardship we face we are always committed to serve our country to the fullest," he said.
Insp Davu said everyone had a part to play in the fight against drugs in the country.
"Religious and traditional leaders, parents and teachers need to all play their roles to assist the police in the fight against drug," he said.