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$170k yaqona theft

Serafina Silaitoga
Saturday, February 03, 2018

EIGHT farmers of a thriving yaqona district in Bua lost $170,000 worth of kava plants to thieves who uprooted about 200 yaqona plants.

Yaqona plants allegedly stolen from farmers of Wainunu were between three and five years old.

The prevailing situation of yaqona thefts has forced Government to ban the sale of green kava from the three provinces of Cakaudrove, Bua and Macuata.

Commissioner Northern Jovesa Vocea said Government banned the sale of green yaqona from all farms on Vanua Levu.

For those in Wainunu, the recent incident has robbed them of many years of hard work.

Wainunu advisory councillor William Brown said one farmer had 14 yaqona plants valued at $1000 each stolen from his farm last week.

"These yaqona plants are five years old and one plant is valued at $1000," he said.

"Another farmer had 95 three-year-old plants stolen from his farm and each plant is valued at $700.

"A woman had 49 yaqona plants stolen and all were three years old valued at $700 each. These farmers are going through hell with the thieves."

Mr Brown said they have had meetings with police to discuss ways to combat yaqona theft.

"It's gone worse and more theft of yaqona is happening now compared with before," he said.

"We are working with police and if we have to, we will visit yaqona farmers and do something about our patrol strategies as a community.

"Government has taken a bold move to ban all sale of green yaqona, but there is a network and we need to crack that."

Prime Minister Voreqe Bainimarama, in his recent visit to the North, assured concerned yaqona farmers that police were already involved in cases of alleged theft reported in the North.

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