VILLAGERS in the interior of Tavua have earned about $13,000 this year from their two harvests of freshwater fish.
And the villagers of Nadelei are looking at increasing their freshwater fish (tilapia) harvests after earning $13,675 this year.
The villagers, through the assistance of the Ministry of Fisheries and Forests, last year ventured into tilapia farming and have become the biggest suppliers of tilapia catch in Tavua and Ba, an Information Ministry statement said.
Village headman Ilai Manoa said in the statement they had been receiving assistance from the Agriculture and Fisheries departments on how to improve their methods of tilapia farming and grow their business.
"We started this year with the first harvest in May and that fetched us more than $6000 while the second harvest, which was sold off recently in Tavua, Rakiraki and Ba fetched us more than $7000 and that was from one pond only," he said.
"We are now working with the fisheries department to increase the number of ponds because we have seen the returns and we want to ensure that our land, which is currently idle, is put to good use."
Mr Manoa said the villagers were grateful to the government for providing the technical expertise including fingerlings (baby fish) to start off their farm.
"We just didn't know it would be this easy. We have always been farmers planting root crops and cutting sugarcane but fish farming has given us another opportunity to grow and use the money for village projects," he added.
Tavua district officer Ravuama Nagatalevu said while government was prepared to assist various rural and local communities to venture into various commercial activities, the onus was on those living in these areas to take ownership of the projects.
"Government has so many initiatives and platforms available which villages such as Nadelei could capitalise on," he said in the statement.