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Farmers sacrifice yaqona earnings

Luke Rawalai
Friday, March 02, 2018

FARMERS who were part of the search and rescue team sacrificed earnings of about $450,000 for not selling and planting yaqona in the past four days.

But they didn't mind at all because they wanted to be part of a national call to support authorities in their work and help retrieve the bodies of missing trainee pilot Merelesita Lutu and instructor Iliesa Tawalo.

The 50 farmers of Dogoru, Suweni, Navakuru and Waikisi villages were happy to be part of the search and rescue team headed by divisional police commander North Senior Superintendent of Police Verani Nakauyaca.

They have also described their acts as sacrifices for Lent.

Dogoru Village headman Semi Radradra said one farmer would plant an average of 100 yaqona plants a day.

"So the value of this 100 yaqona plants and the income we can get from the market is quite high, but we needed to act on humanitarian grounds," he said.

"We wanted to help out with an issue of national interest because we are Fijian citizens and we need to play our part."

Mr Radradra said since Lent focused on the spirit of giving, men in the village were working voluntarily to help military and police officers. "With the blast of the first conch shell since Tuesday morning, men in the village have been gathering at the village hall to attend the morning briefings," he said.

"For most of these men, the farm is like their office, but I reminded them on Tuesday evening that in the spirit of Lent and the emergency situation that has taken place on our mataqali land, they had a duty to ensure that the victims of the crash were located.

"I told them to forget their farms and remember the grieving families back on Viti Levu who were anxious to know the fate of their children and relative.

"About 50 farmers in the village were part of the operation and we are proud and honoured to have helped in one way or another."

When asked whether the village and their neighbouring relatives would partake in any funerary gatherings for the two, Mr Radradra said it was too early to say anything.

"Giving liberally is something our iTaukei ancestors were known for and we will maintain this, not asking or counting what we had done or contributed during the last few days.

"We send our condolences to the grieving families and will remember them in our prayers during this Lent season that God gives them peace."

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