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Yaqona farms raided

Luke Rawalai
Sunday, February 04, 2018

YAQONA theft cost farmers in Wainunu, Bua, more than $1 million last year.

This has prompted calls from growers in the district for increased surveillance and the total ban of green yaqona plant sales in the area.

Batinivuruwai yaqona farmer Sunday Law said yaqona theft had cost growers emotionally and economically and brought a lot of pain and distrust to people living in the area.

She said she had lost 52 three-year-old plants worth about $26,000 since December last year, adding thieves also made away with eight plants valued at $700 from her husband's farm in January this year.

"I broke down in tears when I saw the extent of the theft on my farm thinking of the sacrifices that we had made as a family to start both farms," she said.

Ms Law's husband Philip Bhurra said thieves made away with yaqona plants from his farm which was situated along the Wainunu Rd.

He said the close proximity of the farm to his house showed how desperate and daring thieves had become.

Another farmer, Jonasa Matakibau, said 2100 out of his 3000 yaqona plants were stolen by thieves.

He said he had lost about $200,000 from the theft.

"I have another farm in Wainunu where I had 13 plants valued at $1000 stolen ," he said.

"We're thankful that this weekend a team of police officers from Savusavu was dispatched to Wainunu to look into the matter."

Meanwhile, Wainunu district advisory councillor William Brown said he had collected all theft reports from farmers in preparation for the arrival of the police team.

When contacted for a comment yesterday, police spokesperson Ana Naisoro said she was yet to receive an update from the team that was dispatched to Wainunu on Friday.

Ms Naisoro said they were seriously looking into the yaqona theft issue because of the considerable losses incurred by farmers who had invested time and resources.

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