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Wasavulu Women Empowered to Fight Climate Change

Championing the fight against Climate Change, Prime Minister Honourable Voreqe Bainimarama announced Fiji’s commitment to plant 30Million Trees in 15 Years at the United Nations Heads of State Climate Change Summit in New York in September 2019.  

Accepting the challenge to do their part for humanity, the planet and Fiji, a 15 member women’s group from Wasavulu (a small settlement in Labasa) wasted no time in brainstorming what they could do to fight climate change.

Working with the resources available to them, the group decided to set up nurseries in their own compounds. Using coconut fronds and shade from the grown - 15 backyard nurseries were set up.

Wasavulu Women’s Group advisor Mr Esiri Lebaivalu, 64, said each member started their individual nursery projects with the hope that one day they could collectively sell their seedlings and use their earnings to support their families.

“It was hard at first as we started by gathering seeds from the Sandalwood trees that were already growing in our settlement. Now some of us travel to as far as the district of Udu to get other seeds especially native trees like vesi so that we have a variety of seedlings,” Mr Lebaivalu said.

It has been more than a year since the group set up their nurseries and they are pleased with how well it has progressed.

Mr Lebaivalu said he always advised the women to talk to their plants daily as they are also living things.

“Like human beings nature are also living things and we also need to talk to them and speak life unto them.”

Group member Lalini Deo, 44, who has been a resident at Wasavulu for 22 years, said she started off with vesi, sandalwood and citrus seedlings.

“I went around the settlement asking the other group members for seeds and I moved on from there,” Mrs Deo said.

With her eldest child in University and two at primary school, Mrs Deo said looking after her 2000 seedlings has become a family affair.

“My two younger children help me out with potting and I am also grateful to other group members for their support and help as we always share whatever seedlings we have.”

“With the Minister for Forestry visiting us today (Wednesday June 17th, 2020) am sure we will take a step further in ensuring our seedlings generate income for us.”

The Wasavulu Women’s Group collectively raised 20,000 seedlings between them and with Minister Naiqamu’s visit last week they were able to gather first-hand information of steps they need to take in order for the Ministry of Forestry to purchase their seedlings.

In thanking the group, Minister Naiqamu said their efforts will be a significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and also play an integral role in the mitigation of climate change.

Minister Naiqamu has so far visited close to 150 villages around Fiji since the tree planting initiative was launched at the State House by His Excellency the President Major-General Jioji Konusi Konrote in January 8th, 2019.

Minister Naiqamu in his 30MillionTreeIn15Years Consultation tour around Fiji has encouraged Fijians to establish their own nurseries because Government will need to plant 30 Million Trees in 15 years.

“Government needs your help in ensuring we achieve our tree planting target. We are also encouraging communities to establish nurseries to economically empower you because Government will purchase your seedlings as the tree planting initiative progresses,” he said.

Members of the public are encouraged to log onto the Ministry’s website www.forestry.gov.fj each time they plant and to record their tally of trees planted with the Ministry as everyone’s contribution to the 30MT15Y campaign counts. 

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