Nairai Man Only Vendor Selling Betel Nut In Suva

Mr Lomalagi said betel nut trees were growing wildly in some places in Naitasiri.
28 Jan 2020 12:08
Nairai Man Only Vendor Selling Betel Nut In Suva
Joseva Lomalagi shows the bêtel nut he sells at the Suva Municipal Market. Photo: Susana Tuilau

Sixty-year-old Nairai man Joseva Lomalagi is the only vendor at the Suva Municipal Market selling betel nut.

He told Island Beat that he had no competition as he was the only supplier.

His customers, he said, were mainly the university students from Vanuatu, Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea.

He said when there was a visiting delegation from these islands in Fiji, they would come to the market to buy betel nut.

Mr Lomalagi said betel nut trees were growing wildly in some places in Naitasiri.

“I got my supply from my clients every day,” he said.

Betel nut, he said, was chewed together with a leaf and he sold it too.

He said most of his customers bought $20 to $30 worth of betel nut and the leaves.

His customers usually asked where he got his supplies from as they had betel nut farms in their countries.

His earnings were prioritised towards his children’s education.

But with his four children now working and living with their own families, Mr Lomalagi still sold betel nut and flowers.

He said in a day he could get $200 just from the sale of betel nut.

When Island Beat met him, he said he had more than $200 in his pocket.

Mr Lomalagi started as a fruit vendor more than 15 years ago until he learned about the betel nut.

Meanwhile a report on betel nut says: “Chewing betel nut is a popular recreational activity undertaken by many locals in Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands, and other South Pacific nations.

“People chew on it because it releases a mild stimulant that makes you feel more relaxed – like kava in Fiji.”


Today, the World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that around 600 million people use some form of betel nut.

It is one of the most popular psychoactive substances in the world, in fourth place after nicotine, alcohol, and caffeine.

But while betel nut is an important cultural and social tradition in many countries, growing evidence points to serious health effects from regular use, the WHO said.

Edited by Ivamere Nataro


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