Island News

Development using a holistic approach

Written By : Kuini Waqasavou Department of Agriculture. Development in a community, settlement or village is of great importance in this day and age as this will determine the prosperity
13 Nov 2010 12:00

image Written By : Kuini Waqasavou Department of Agriculture. Development in a community, settlement or village is of great importance in this day and age as this will determine the prosperity of a nation.
Every day, new development pops up around the country whether it is running water from taps for a village in the highlands or electricity that is powered by solar on a remote island.
There is one such village in the island of Kadavu that has taken a stand to create better lives for its inhabitants.
Buliya Village is located on an island at the Eastern part of Kadavu Province in the District of Ono and the village setting is surrounded by sandy beaches and coral reefs with clear blue seas.
With a population of only 180 people on the island, Buliya Village had been struggling over the years to try and set a platform from which they could begin their village development projects.
In 2006, Buliya Village Strategic Development Committee was established by villagers who had moved to the urban centres to look for better employment opportunities.
Sanaila Biau is the Technical Development Officer for the Village Committee based in Suva and for the past few years since the committee was established, he and its members have been putting together a paper that would further strengthen their development needs using a holistic approach.
“We have managed to tie in Government Departments, Non-Government Organisations and integrated stakeholders to assist us in our journey towards a better future for the village of Buliya,” explained Biau.
With the future generation growing in numbers, Biau says that securing a better tomorrow for their children is of paramount importance.
With the integrated approach that they have been practicing, Buliya village have managed to secure the services of the Agriculture Department based in Vunisea, Kadavu.
“Vunisea Government Station is quite a long way off for our people in the island and crossing the high seas to travel to Suva is preferable for most if not all of our fellow villagers in Buliya,” explained Biau.
“With a lot of correspondence between the Commissioner Eastern’s Office as well as the Ministry of Primary Industries, we have been able to go against all odds and create history for the village. Buliya is well known throughout Kadavu as the island that is rich in its marine resources but not so much in the crops sector as the soil on the island is mostly sand.
According to Biau, the villagers have over the years been planting only cassava and bele on a small scale for their food security.
“The every day meal would consist of fish and cassava or maybe other sea-food like crabs and there would be no healthy and nutritious vegetables to go with the meal,” said Biau.
After Cyclone Tomas earlier in the year, all food crops were battered and rotted in the ground and villagers had to resort to eating rice and fish for their meals.
“It was a difficult time for the villagers and we all thought that we would continue to suffer throughout this year without any proper meals.”
This was when concerted efforts by the Village Committee and the Agriculture Department began.
The problem of stray pigs was the main factor of the village not planting any vegetables as the animals were allowed access throughout the village, often spoiling crops that were already on the ground.
Senior Agriculture Officer (Kadavu) Epeli Dugucagi said that the first step was to set up pig fences on the outskirts of the village so that the animals were barred from entering the village premises.
“My team from Vunisea consisting of extension officials as well as Animal Health and Production officials camped at the village for some time as we decided that the village needed proper training in order for them to grow quality vegetables for their meals.
“During the course of the training, firstly, villagers were taught the importance of keeping their animals in their pens so that they were not given the liberty of roaming the village and damaging plants,” explained Dugucagi.
Dugucagi further explained that vegetable training was done next from land preparation right up till harvesting period.
“We worked with the villagers in setting up their plots and of course assistance was poured into the village in terms of vegetable seeds as well as dalo ni tana and kumala planting materials which totalled $2000 worth of assistance,” explained Dugucagi.
Forty-four year old Cagi Naitauyavu is now the key man in the village for looking after farm development and says that there has been a major change in the diet of every meal in the village.
“This is of course evident in the tables of every family in the village as we now have capsicum, Chinese cabbage, English cabbage, varieties of bean, corn, carrot, tomatoes, cucumber, eggplant, spring onion, lettuce and so much more,” explained Cagi.
“We have been planting using the integrated approach as the vegetable plots are sitting right under our coconut trees which lead right to the beach and we have called it the Garden of Eden,” smiled Cagi proudly.
The father of five children says that the hard work has paid off and now they able to see the great changes in the lives of the villagers.
“With the inclusion of healthy fruits and vegetables in our diet, young children are hardly sick as well as the elderly and there is so much energy in the village as villagers try to produce more nutritious produce on the farm,” explained Cagi.
“The plots have been divided per family and each family knows and understands by now the various techniques of planting vegetables and how to care for them daily.”
Cagi went on to say that most of the villagers have begun planting their second phase of vegetables and the eagerness and unity that has been brought about by the vegetable farm is astounding.
“This is something that we have never experienced before and the air of excitement in the village is noticeable because we are now enjoying the fruits of our hard work and we wish to thank the Agriculture Department office in Vunisea for their concerted efforts and training us on vegetable production,” smiled Cagi.
The Department of Fisheries has also stepped in to assist the village in preserving their fishing grounds or ‘i qoliqoli’ for a couple of months in a year.
“When we have special village functions, then we are allowed to fish in the restricted area but after that, it is closed again,” explained Cagi.
“We are now bearing the fruits of patience as there are more clam shells, crabs, and other marine resources that have flooded our fishing grounds and we will continue to work with the Fisheries Officer based at Kavala Bay,” added Cagi.
With the village vision of ‘securing better livelihoods as well as a harmonious community’, Buliya is well on its way to securing more positive developments for its inhabitants.
Buliya now has in place an Annual Project Plan for 2011 which has trickled down from the National Vision and Mission right through to the national objectives for Rural and Outer Island Development 2007-2011.
Biau adds that their focus is to strengthen human resource development, empowering quality natural resources development, creating team building development focus, enhancing environmental development and protection and working in partnership with integrated stakeholders.
“We have many more activities planned for 2011 which of course will need guidance from the various government agencies, but we are getting there one day at a time,” smiled Biau.

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