Weaving Helps With Revival Efforts On Koro
Ten months after identifying niche markets to develop Koro Island, the staff of the United Nation Development Programme (UNDP) is heading back to implement their plans.
UNDP TC Winston Recovery And Response Project Manager, Alifereti Bulivou, said the first step was to articulate on the artistic mat weaving strength for the women of Koro Island.
“Everything needed to weave the mats are bought by the UNDP.
“This plan includes the decorations for mats, sourced markets to sell their mats and money returned to be shared among themselves,” Mr Bulivou said.
“A total of 1400 coils of pandanus (voivoi) leaves will be given to women within the 14 villages.
“Another initiative is for women to sell mats rather than the coils and bundles sold at a very low cost in the past,” he said.
He also said another arm of this financial assistance stretches out to women from Gau, Vanua Levu, Batiki islands, where coils of voivoi are bought at about $30 per coil.
“We are even buying the raw materials from within Koro Island itself,” Mr Bulivou said.
The UNDP has also contributed to the revival of the voivoi plant since Cyclone Winston struck the island.
“We have also organised a nursery planting 6000 voivoi plants in the island,” he said.
In the past, women of Namacu, sold mats for prices between $40 and $600 or for $1000 for sets of fours bought under barter purchasing deals with their customers in towns and cities.
Meredani Radinivulagi of Sinucava Village charges a price of $500 for a set of four mats.
“It takes me two months to weave them,” Ms Radinivulagi said.
She said weaving is just part of her chores as a village housewife.
Her unique skill and experience has given her the knowledge of identifying the most suited voivoi leaves to suit whatever order comes her way.
“There are two species in the island and the most sought after species have a length of over three feet,” she said.
“Weaving has stopped since Cyclone Winston swept through the island killing almost all vegetations including one of the main source of income for women, the voivoi plant.”
Laisa Tawake echoed the same sentiments saying the women of Koro Island are already singing about the revival of the plant and the initiative of the UNDP to revive their livelihood.