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Sandalwood rip-off

SERAFINA SILAITOGA
Sunday, February 17, 2008

SANDALWOOD traders in the North have called on the interim regime to secure a market for them because they were being ripped off by local buyers.

The comment comes after buyers at Labasa dropped their purchase price from $1 to 50c a kilo.

The disgruntled traders, who are members of mataqali Nakorovatu of Nabavatu Village in Dreketi, want the Ministry of Forestry to look into their concern. Clan spokesman Alifereti Esala said the price of 50c a kilo was a rip-off.

"It is not a good price especially when we cut the wood and bring it to town. To hire a carrier for our sandalwood from nabavatu to Labasa costs $200."

Mr Esala said the sandalwood trade was an expensive exercise especially for villagers who depended on money from sales for their income. Divisional Forestry Officer Northern Noa Vakacegu said the ministry did not control the price of sandalwood sale and for licensed harvesters, there were markets in the North they dealt with. "For yasi, the market price is $20 to $25 a kilo but we don't control the market price. There are only a few who have a licence to harvest and sell sandalwood."


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