WCS attends Bua Provincial Meeting

On Wednesday 13 November, I travelled to Nabouwalu in Bua to attend the Provincial Council meeting on behalf of WCS.

Being the lone representative from the non-governmental organizations, my task for the 2 day council meeting was to present the work that we have been doing in the province and to answer any questions which the chief’s may have.

Some of the issues that were raised was in line with mitigating environmental impacts in light of economic developments within the province as well as ensuring that they are able to pass onto their children a better future that balanced both economic prosperity and a healthy environment.

The Mata ni Tikima o Lekutu, Suliasi Saraqia commended the work of WCS within the province and thanked the team for our efforts to engage with them.

As part of my presentation however I made sure to thank all the Chiefs, Mata ni Tikina and Turaga ni Koro’s for opening their doors to work with us through scientific research as well as community management workshops and village consultations.

This I felt went down well as often when we visit the villages, either the Chief’s are away or only the Turaga ni Koro is in so it was good to show our appreciation to them.

During the 2 day meeting which ended on Friday 15 November, I also gave out reports for the Bua survey and newsletters to members of the community and provincial council.

Having returned from the meeting, I felt that WCS was in a good place to continue our work in Bua to provide scientific research to the provincial council in order to secure a fishier future for the province and for its future generations.

Sa re mada

Keeping busy bees in Kavula

A joint blog post by Sirkka Killmann & Naomi Folaukitoga of WCS

As part of our Alternative Livelihoods Project in the province of Bua, Vanua Levu, we travelled on 12 and 13 November to facilitate a beekeeping training for a group of women in Kavula, a small village surrounded by luscious green mountains and countless fruit trees in the interior of Bua.

The Bua ladies in bee suits undergoing training. By Naomi Folaukitoga

The Bua ladies in bee suits undergoing training. By Naomi Folaukitoga

The women involved in honey production belong to a local women’s club selling their produce to buyers in Labasa for a low price, making very little profit out of it. Additionally, the women lack the skills and knowledge to tend to their bees properly in order to get maximum quantity and quality produce.

Therefore, at our last visit to the village, the women had expressed an urgent need for a basic beekeeping and marketing training in order to develop their honey production into a small business that could contribute to their livelihoods and to the food security of the whole community.

Led by the beekeeping expert from the Department of Agriculture in Labasa, Darmend Prasad, we organized a two-day workshop tailored to address the women’s needs in overcoming the challenges they were facing.

After our arrival by ferry at Nabouwalu, one broken down car and a flat tire later, we were warmly received by the Turaga ni Koro for Kavula village, Tomasi Se, who hosted us in his cozy bure. Following a hearty breakfast of dhal and rice the next morning, the workshop started off with hands-on practice at the beehives which are situated on a small hill overlooking the village.

It became clear that the hives had not been inspected since the last harvest three months ago, since a bee colony had already constructed an additional hive in between the boxes provided. This again showed the urgency of this workshop.

Looking for the queen bee during the  workshop. Photo by Naomi Folaukitoga

Looking for the queen bee during the workshop. Photo by Naomi Folaukitoga

Besides lessons on proper maintenance and inspection of beehives, the schedule included efficient ways of feeding the wax, grafting and wiring techniques and maintenance of frames. The second day was filled with information about proper breeding of queen bees, splitting techniques and marketing of honey, amongst others.

Darmend interacted very well with the ladies, challenging them constantly to take initiatives and give feedback and the time spent together was never short of jokes and laughter. The ladies were motivated to take better care of their bees and bring their beekeeping to the next level.

The ladies stated that most of the information was new to them and that the workshop had provided them with invaluable skills. Now it is up to them to put their new skills into practice.

We are very thankful to Darmend for sharing his time and knowledge and for the friendliness and hospitality received from the villagers. Apart from the excellent Buan dalo, we brought back five kilos of delicious organic honey as a sample which hopefully can be enjoyed all around Fiji in the near future!

This work is generously supported by the Flora Family Foundation and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

Dharmend Prasad from the Fijian Department of Agriculture demonstrates how to feed the frames with wax using a car battery. Photo by Naomi Folaukitoga

Dharmend Prasad from the Fijian Department of Agriculture demonstrates how to feed the frames with wax using a car battery. Photo by Naomi Folaukitoga

Growing Strong Roots in Nadivakarua

On the 6th and 7th of November, I set out to join the Fijian Department of Fisheries conduct training in Nadivakarua Village in Kubulau District, Bua.

The aim of the workshop was to establish plant nurseries so inland communities could provide favorable conditions for tree seedlings to grow before transplanting and covered topics such as identifying a suitable site for the nursery, building the structure as well as plant production, handling and maintenance.

On the first day, the community gathered the posts from the forest and dug the holes where the posts would later sit forming the foundation of the plant nursery.

Jone Vakarewa and his team from the Department of Fisheries arrived with the remaining materials needed and with his guidance the community participants were able to cut the posts to size and tied wire to each of the posts to close the first day’s activities on a high note.

Around the Tanoa that evening the community congregated in the village hall to gain tips from Jone Vakarewa about successful seedling pots, maintenance, income generation and to discuss community support for the project and unfavorable weather conditions in the area.

On day two the community began by setting up the mesh netting and cutting it into the measured sizes. As part of the workshop, the Forestry officials demonstrated how to mix the soil, fill the potted plants, handling the seedlings and transplanting.

He also emphasized the importance of choosing the right soil for pot plants for the different type of plants before one hundred seedlings of Yasi or Sandalwood were brought in to start with part of 3 kilograms of Yasi seedlings that were paid by the KRMC

The Tui Wainunu, Ratu Orisi Baleitavea paid a visit during the workshop where he was impressed by the participants from each of the villages within Kubulau and was briefed on the progress of the nursery as part of the KRMC GEF funded project in which WCS with the Wainunu RMC

Following the completion of the nursery, the KRMC established a mechanism to assign a few members to look after the nursery and water the pot plants.

Eventually it is envisioned that this project will be able to perform an important ecological task in arresting up-stream soil erosion and sedimentation that negatively impact inshore fisheries and coastal communities livelihoods.

It will also act as a provenance for re-establishing wetlands and re-vegetation projects as logging practices in the area continue.