The Adventist Development and Relief Agency (ADRA) is helping Fiji in its battle against drugs by offering local farmers alternatives to growing marijuana.
We want to discourage them from planting, selling and dealing marijuana . . . it’s not only an economic issue but also a social issue.
The project is funded by the New Zealand Government in partnership with ADRA NZ. It’s worth $FJ1.3m ($A0.75m) and will run for three years. According to the Fiji Times, farmers will be assisted to grow root crops and other vegetables, and to start a honey industry. A cold storage facility is also on the horizon.
As well as the economic development component, the project also includes Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH) and disaster risk reduction components.
ADRA Fiji country director Save Cavalevu said consultation with farmers, women, young people and community leaders in the inland Navosa region of Viti Levu, Fiji’s main island, revealed that the cost of transporting food crops to coastal markets is a barrier. Many farmers resort to growing cannabis in order to earn extra money. There are also concerns about the amount of time farmers spend at the markets selling their produce, away from their families, and that they are sometimes involved in destructive behaviours.
“The government is working with ADRA very closely because we’ve actually addressed one of the issues in terms of providing an alternative to marijuana farming,” Mr Cavalevu said. “We want to discourage them from planting, selling and dealing marijuana . . . it’s not only an economic issue but also a social issue.”