Caption: Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Hon. Sakiasi Ditoka with solar freezer recipient Mr. Fara Varea and his family and senior members of the Rotuma Council.
ROTUMA – Paptea Village fisherman Faga Varea no longer has to walk for at least an hour to sell his day’s catch after officially receiving his very own solar freezers from the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management in Rotuma today.
The father-of-ten has been fishing for the last 30 years to make ends meet for his family. On average, Mr Varea earns about $300 a week from fishing and selling them to an identified group of customers on the island.
“Before when I come back from fishing, I have to take the fish on my bike to sell the fish. I have to travel for more than one hour to be able to sell all my fish. It used to be hard, especially when sometimes I am already tired from the trip out to sea and then I have to travel by bike again to sell all the fish. Also, I used to face a lot of challenges because there was no proper storage facility to preserve the fish,” Mr Varea recalled.
“But now it’s easy for me because when I return from the sea, I have the freezers and just sell fish from home and I thank Government for helping me.”
The provision of Mr Varea’s solar freezers was made possible through the Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management’s Self-Help Programme (SHP) at a cost of more than $21,000 on a cost-sharing basis.
Today, the Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management, Hon. Sakiasi Ditoka also handed over a solar and freezer project to the villagers of Pepjei in Rotuma which was made possible through assistance from the Office of the Prime Minister at a cost of more than $30,000.
Pepjei District Chief Gagaj Suakmas James said the assistance rendered by Government would greatly assist the three villages from the district of Pepjei.
“Before we had the solar freezers, the fishermen used to be affected a lot. Once they return from fishing, the families will have to make use of all the fish or we will go to the other districts to freeze our fishing produce. With the provision of these freezers, we will not need to worry about all these issues,” Gagaj James said.
Villagers from the district also intend to start a fish-selling business to support them in any village obligations in the future.
Caption: Pepjei District Chief Gagaj Suakmas James addressing the villagers at the handover of their solar and freezer project at Pepjei in Rotuma today.
The Ministry of Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management is responsible for implementing development strategies that bring Fijians living in rural and maritime regions the same level of access to essential services and economic opportunities as anywhere else in the country. We coordinate and implement the Fiji Government’s rural and maritime development initiatives with a mission to empower Fiji’s rural sector. We also spearhead disaster risk reduction initiatives at national and sub-national level including disaster preparedness, response, and recovery. We have offices for each of Fiji’s 14 provinces including Rotuma, leading the Fiji Government’s rural development and disaster risk management operations.
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