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Fiji Time: 2:26 AM on Thursday 24 April

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Riches from the sea

Rakesh Kumar
Saturday, December 14, 2013

There are many ways in which people living in rural villages can earn a living.

And there should not be any complaints because they have God's gift — nature — which they need to utilise properly.

This is the advice from Kumi Village elder Sailosi Gonedua when speaking to the fisheries officials and local community leaders from Tonga, Vanuatu and Fiji.

Mr Gonedua said Fijians were e blessed with beautiful and healthy natural surroundings.

Mr Gonedua, who is the head of Kumi Village in Verata district, said they received technical advice from Fiji Locally Managed Marine Areas (FLMMA) Network and Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to improve the living standard in their village.

"With the help of these organisations we are progressing well in our sea cucumber (beche-de-mer) farming," Mr Gonedua said.

"We are also encouraging the people in our village to take up small projects to get income so that livelihood in the village can be improved," Mr Gonedua said.

He said sea cucumber farming in his village was getting popular and the villages were showing lots of interest to expand this project.

Mr Gonedua added they started the project two years ago and with technical advice from FLMMA they managed to sell 40 sea cucumbers to the fisheries department this year.

"We have harvested it once only and each sea cucumber was sold for $20 each.

"We now have close to 1000 sea cucumbers in the enclosure and the Fisheries Department will contact us as soon as the stock is there.

Mr Gonedua said the funds received from the project were kept in a separate account to be used in the village development.

Kumi villager Koroi Caleibatiki, 40, is one of the six villagers who looks after the sea cucumber enclosure. He said they were not permitted to sell sea cucumbers in the market.

"It is illegal to sell it personally.

"Everyone in the village knows about it and they all help in collecting young ones in the sea.

"Whoever finds it in the sea will get it over and it will be put in the enclosure to grow," Mr Caleibatiki said.

Kumi villagers get income from ginger, dalo and cassava farming.

Meanwhile, a joint workshop was organised on Wednesday and Thursday this week to encourage cross-country exchanges between FLMMA Network and JICA-supported communities.

This was in the view to further strengthen their partnership and exchange project good practices and lessons learnt.