Youths use yaqona earnings to meet financial obligations

Youths of the Bula Raraba project in their $3.7 million worth farm in Naiyarabale within the district of Saqani in Cakaudrove. Picture LUKE RAWALAI

A YOUTH group in Cakaudrove gives $45,000 annually from yaqona planting to meet financial obligations to the vanua, church and education.

Nayarabale Youth Group president Iliesa Vakaruru said the money was shared equally to the three areas.

“For the students, we give $300 for tertiary students, $200 per student for secondary education, and $100 for primary school students,” he said.

“This money is given to parents at the beginning of the year to buy uniforms and stationery for the school term.”

Mr Vakaruru said the yaqona farm project headed by his team had about 70,000 plants.

“Every year our target is to plant 25,000 plants of yaqona, but this year we exceeded that and have planted 30,000 so far.

“We earn about $40,000 a month from selling the young yaqona shoots, green yaqona and even the dried roots. He acknowledged Government for improving access to their farm .

“The Government constructed a road so we can use vehicles now to transport the yaqona,” Mr Vakaruru said.

“We have purchased a carrier for the villagers to use and the youth group has its own four-wheel-drive vehicle which is used for the farm.”

Mr Vakaruru said the youth group managed their affairs like a business and apart from generating income, their yaqona farm also provided employment.

“Our farming program employs the youths so we get paid weekly.

“We don’t need to go and look for jobs in town, we just continue to invest in our land.”

The group has expanded its business by leasing additional land from family in the village and they have diversified by planting 8000 yam shoots and sandalwood.

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