Island News

Changing for the better

Written By : Kuini Waqasavou Ministry of Primary Industries. Muani Village is situated in the tikina of Ravitaki in Kadavu and has a population of about 100 people with most
22 Jan 2011 12:00

Written By : Kuini Waqasavou Ministry of Primary Industries. Muani Village is situated in the tikina of Ravitaki in Kadavu and has a population of about 100 people with most of its population residing in the urban centres around the country.
The pride of the village, they all say, is their very own church, which is probably the biggest on the entire island of Kadavu.
This was proudly built by the villagers using their very own resources and of course, through their hard-earned income from yaqona production.
Kadavu is well-known for its huge yaqona production and the many farmers who live on the island are dependent on yaqona for their income.
Through their income, children have been sent to schools, houses have been built, boats have been bought and life goes on.
Jesoni Rauca, 55, of Muani Village has learned that life is all about making mistakes and learning from them.
Mr Rauca worked in the capital city for 27 years, but felt that something was amiss and that is when his life started all over again.
“I left my work and returned to my island home and whilst settling back again to the life here, it suddenly hit me that this is where I belonged,” Mr Rauca said.
He has never looked back and vowed that it was time that the villagers of Muani upgraded their lives and set standards for the future generations to follow.
Mr Rauca and other elders of the village have set up their own development committee, which will look into the upgrading of the village as a whole.
“We decided that the only way for us to develop was to start income-generating projects and we are very grateful for the assistance by the Ministry of Primary Industries,” Mr Rauca explained.
“We approached them at the office here in Vunisea and after a few more meetings and visits to the village, we decided that we were going to start cattle farming and to date we have about 13 beef cattle in our farm.”
The villagers have been working closely with the Animal Health and Production Division officers on the island and have also attended trainings on the proper care for the animals on the farm.
“We are so grateful that we were assisted by the Agriculture Department and were given four Limousine bulls and seven Hereford breeds of cows to start off and all we had to do was pay our part which was just $3000,” he said.
“It has indeed been a great investment and we are so grateful for the assistance that has been rendered to us by Government.”
Mr Rauca says that yaqona farming for them has been on-going, but they were also advised to look into planting short-term crops for additional income.
“We have had a lot of training conducted here in the village and the elders of the village have been pushing the youths to strive towards better and bigger production on their farms,” he said.
“The support from the members of the village living in the urban centres have also been overwhelming.
“This is our island home. Most of us were born and brought up here before leaving for further studies and work. Whenever they come for holidays or social obligations, they are reminded to return to the land once they have finished work and studies,” explained Jesoni.
“We really appreciate the efforts of the Government in putting in place programmes for people living in the rural and outer islands so that standards of living can be raised,” said Jesoni.
He said they had an abundance of resources, but it was never taken seriously.
That is why he says they need to work closely with the Government officials on the island.
Senior Agriculture officer (Kadavu) Epeli Dugucagi believes that the villages on the island have their own skills and strengths to work on and develop.
“Muani Village has indeed been developing and we always look forward to visiting them as they are always eager to absorb as much information as they can and we also note the vast developments that have been taking place in the village,” Dugucagi said.
“With beef farming, they have changed the mindset of other villages nearby as to what can be achieved and interest has been growing for livestock farming on the island.”
Dugucagi said Muani Village was also planting vegetables on a subsistence basis.
“This is a really good move by the village as they are able to sustain their families with proper nutritious food and maybe in years to come, they will also be able to develop into semi-commercial farming for the nearby hotels on the island,” he said.
Muani Village is also keen on keeping the environment safe so that their children and future generations will enjoy the privileges that they are enjoying now.
“We have set up bins right around the village and the children have really grasped the meaning of keeping our environment safe and clean,” Mr Rauca said.
Jesoni said the fisheries officials have also taught them ways and means of preserving their marine resources so that they continously enjoy eating fresh food from the sea.
“We have been working closely with the Government departments in Vunisea because we have learnt that whatever activities we carry out on the land will surely have an impact on our nearby seas,” he said.
“We do not want that to happen because we are solely dependant on the land and sea for our everyday living, so we are just focusing our energy on preservation and making the best use of our natural resources without placing any harm to them.”
Muani Village has many plans for the future, but as they say, development comes in little baby steps.
“That is why we are taking one step at a time,” Mr Rauca said smiling.

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