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Need for a market

Sikeli Qounadovu
Tuesday, February 27, 2018

TWO years after severe Tropical Cyclone Winston wreaked havoc across the Fiji group, Koro Island, one of the worse affected areas, is beaming in confidence with farmers priding themselves that the dalo industry is back.

When a team from this newspaper visited the island the farmers confidently said that "as we speak Koro Island has the capacity of producing more than 70 tons of dalo".

Mudu villager Tevita Vunileba said there was so much dalo on the island that each village could produce in access of five tons of dalo.

"Excluding the settlement just count the 14 villages and you multiply that with five tons that is the total amount of dalo Koro Island can provide right now.

"We have dealers coming to the island right now saying that the island should provide three to five tons, that is what one village can produce at the moment.

"We do not want the middlemen to come, right now we want the big boss to come and we sell directly to them. There is so much dalo right now that we can provide that which is needed for the export market," said Mr Vunileba.

With many Koro islanders still recovering from the wrath of the Category 5 monster cyclone, Mr Vunileba said they had hopes in the dalo market to provide for their basic needs as they awaited their yaqona to mature in the next three to four years.

"These middlemen, they come to us buying dalo at $1.80 per kg and some as low as $1.30 per kg and we cannot refuse because we need the money, our families need to survive as well," he said.

Nakodu Village headman Alipate Tiko said sometimes they had to wait for a longer period of time to sell their dalo.

"Because when the middlemen come they only want three or five tons from the island and there are only two middlemen, so sometimes they can't reach us because they have exceeded their limit from the previous village," said Mr Tiko while village men waited by the roadside with their sacks of dalo.

Vatulele Village headman Sikeli Vakaliwaliwa echoed the similar sentiments.

"First the price of dalo is not good and now there is no market.

"For most of us we have had to take our dalo back home for consumption because the middlemen have not come to us."

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