Fiji Time: 2:05 PM on Thursday 18 January

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Betel nuts keeps him going

Atasa Moceituba
Friday, April 21, 2017

JOSEVA Lomalagi, 60, makes a living selling betel nuts at the Suva municipal market.

Originally from Nairai in Lomaiviti, Mr Lomalagi said he had been a market vendor for the past 30 years.

After the devastation of Severe Tropical Winston he said he had to switch from selling vegetables and flowers to betel nuts. He said betel nuts helped make ends meet.

Mr Lomalagi says he does construction work as a foreman from time to time.

He said he enjoyed selling simply because he gets good money from it.

"I also enjoy selling because you're free and you're your own boss and nobody is there to boss you around."-

In a day Mr Lomalagi said he could serve about 50-100 people adding majority of his customers were Solomon and Papua New Guinea islanders who are University of the South Pacific (USP) students.-

"I usually buy the betel nuts from a village in Naitasiri for $50 a bag and sell it for $3 a heap.

"I make a lot of money just from selling betel nuts."

Business has its ups and downs but despite the difficulties he encountered he said he never gave up.

"One of the challengers I face as a market vendor is trying to organise the produce (betel nut) and getting a hold of the people from Naitasiri.

"The villagers have rules and obligations so they can only assist me when they're free.-

"Students can buy $15-$20 worth of betel nut the same day and they come again the next day for more depending on the quality." Apart from betel nut Mr Lomalagi also sells flowers, dalo and tavioka and is based in the market every day.

Fact File

* Many people chew betel nut for the energy boost. This is likely due to the nut's natural alkaloids, which releases adrenaline.

nIt may also result in feelings of euphoria and well-being.

* Betel nut is the seed of a type of palm tree.

* Reports on WWW,Healthline.Com states betel nut users are at a higher risk of oral sub mucous fibrosis.

nThis incurable condition can cause stiffness in the mouth and eventually the loss of jaw movement.

nRegular chewing of betel nut can also cause gum irritation and tooth decay.

Teeth may become permanently stained deep red or even black.








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