WITH this year's Vodafone Fiji Hibiscus Queen theme Climate Change Affecting Human Lives, the queen contestants visited a village in Tailevu to see first-hand the problems affecting their livelihoods.
The contestants visited Buretu as part of their activities to prepare themselves for the upcoming Vodafone Fiji Hibiscus Festival.
Hibiscus Events Group public relations manager Lice Movono-Rova said the trip was a learning exercise for the girls.
"The reasons we are here is to teach and show these girls the effects of climate change and what the communities are doing. And the other reason is we want to bring some public attention as the Vodafone Fiji Hibiscus Festival has a medium and wide platform," Mrs Movono-Rova said.
"We want the people to see that there are some communities who are suffering from climate change in Buretu.
"For example, the salt water intrusion is an issue here.
"The villagers have started to buy root crops — something that is unheard of in a Fijian village.
"That is how bad the salt water intrusion is getting into the farmlands and the villagers are unable to plant simple root crops, like cassava, in abundance."
She said another reason for their visit was for the girls to see for themselves and take heed of what the villagers of Buretu go through.
She said the message learnt yesterday was that those communities were suffering drastically.
"If this is the kind of problems they are facing, how can we buy food in a dangerous situation.
"We think it's an alarming situation and something that the people need to hear about.
Buretu has a population of 131, less than half of which have jobs in urban centres.