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Cocoa revival on track

Siteri Sauvakacolo
Monday, April 28, 2014

THE people of Nabalabala, Ra, are determined to bring back cocoa as the number one business in the region.

The village in the Tokaimalo district was once known for cocoa farming in the 1970s. Business came to a stop because of the poor cocoa prices paid to farmers.

A new initiative undertaken by the International Trade Centre and the Fiji Crop and Livestock Council will allow farmers to sell their produce to an exporter at prices ranging from $6 and $7 per kg.

Village headman Mario Keni said the new initiative would assist the villagers.

He said many families were struggling to cope with the high cost of daily living.

"This cocoa farming business was assisting us a lot in the 1970s when it started," Mr Keni said.

"We relied on it a lot because we were making good money out of it but everything turned bad when middlemen and agents started to cheat us on cocoa prices.

"When this happened, the villagers just had no hope at all in engaging themselves with the business and this was the reason it died down slowly."

On Thursday the villagers were engaged in a workshop by the ITC. ITC facilitator Mere Naivelo reassured the villagers that they need not take their produce again to the markets or look for middlemen as an arrangement had been made for an exporter would come straight to their homes.

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