NATION

Balawaviriki Farmers Seek Road Assistance

Farmers representative and leader, Jone Veitarogi, 53, said most of the farmers spent more days in their farms than with their families in the village.
22 Nov 2019 13:48
Balawaviriki Farmers Seek Road Assistance
Standing third from left, Jone Veitarogi with children and farmers at Balawaviriki farm in Vaturova. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

It is the cry of Balawaviriki farmers in Vaturova to have their access road fixed.

There are more than 80 farmers in Balawaviriki with the eldest in his 70’s.

Farmers representative and leader, Jone Veitarogi, 53, said most of the farmers spent more days in their farms than with their families in the village.

“We bring along our families and our children go to school from here but the big problem we are facing now is our road.”

The farm is about six to seven kilometres from the nearest bus station and their only form of transport would be a four-wheel drive (4WD).

He said nowadays, the drivers have refused to travel to the farm because of the poor road condition.

“We understand that the drivers are also worried about their vehicles, now we have to trek to the bus station where we could catch the bus or trek another three to four kilometres to where the 4WD would wait for us.

“Some of us carry more than 50kg of yaqona which is really a struggle, especially towards the beginning of another school term when we have to harvest a lot in preparation for school,” he said.

A culvert which farmers thought needed urgent attention.  Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

A culvert which farmers thought needed urgent attention. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

He said the access roads were affecting their ability to take their produce to market

“Many of us are getting old and we would be grateful if we could be assisted with our road.”

Most of the families have left the farms because of their school children.

“It’s really a pity sometimes when we see our kids walking and fighting the cold at 5 am to catch the 7 am bus to get to school, and this was their routine every day, morning and afternoon,” he said.

“When it rains, some of them will reach school soaking wet and these are primary school kids, some are still in kindergarten.”

Farmer, Asaeli Kavika, 54, crossing a broken culvert which  four wheel drives used to cross before.  Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

Farmer, Asaeli Kavika, 54, crossing a broken culvert which four wheel drives used to cross before. Photo: Selita Bolanavanua

Mr Veitarogi said since 2017, they had been requesting for assistance from the relevant ministry and departments.

“Officials come and go making promises that our road would be looked at urgently.

“Every time they come, we always welcome them with the hope that the work would be done soon.

“Until today, nothing had been done. We have been told that the farm road was on their list and the funds were already available but we are still waiting until today,” he said.

“This is our home, and our main source of income is here.”

He added that the funds that they had been earning from their farms had been going towards their village development, projects and most of all their children’s education.

Assistant Minister for Agriculture Viam Pillay who had also visited the farm said according to his North team, the Ministry’s digger will be in Savusavu on the second week of December and will start the work on Balawaviriki farm road, Savudrodro farm road and some pending work which needs to be completed as well.

Balawaviriki farm started in the 1980’s when the piece of land was given to a few villages in Cakaudrove to farm on. Leaving their villages behind, these farmers travel by boat before catching their ride which takes them at least half a day to reach their farms.

Many of the school dropouts and youths have seen the farm as their main source of living and are earning a good income planting yaqona and dalo.

Feedbackselita.bolanavanua@fijisun.com.fj

Fiji Sun Instagram
Fiji Plus
Subscribe-to-Newspaper