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FIJI TIMES ONLINE - Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Tepau Iotua, the lady behind the barter trade system on Rabi island which keeps several families going

TEPAU IOTUA is a popular character on Rabi Island as most families end up dealing with her on any given day. Ms Iotua, 29, operates the General Wholesalers Store on the island which is one of the several services provided by the municipal body administering the island the Rabi Island Council of Leaders. She facilitates the barter system trade on the island which roughly comprises farmers offering their root crops and yaqona in exchange for groceries.

"Only those lazy to plant will probably not eat or be able to afford groceries from here," she said.

"We have everything from food to fuel and all they have to do is sell us their crops and we market it elsewhere," she said.
The barter system which is not commonplace in most urban centres has been in operation since the council was first occupied by the Banaban community in 1945. The system according to Ms Iotua keeps many on the island.

"While there are those that go out and look for employment if they do well academically there are those that choose to stay because this is an avenue to earn an income," she said.

"They don't really have to struggle with looking for a market."

For instance farmers sell their yaqona at current price $25 for one kilogram and in return get to take home grocery worth that amount. "There's land here and the market and this is the way many Rabian families have managed to educate their children and I actually grew up on this system too."

"Before there were many hardworking farmers around and they lacked for nothing but as years fly by many prefer to go out for softer white collar jobs," she said.

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Comment by Savali.Matio on May 1, 2009 at 1:23pm
meen this is a good article to know. I am very thankful to our council leaders to do this kind of barter system. Hope this system will be sustained through out
Comment by Erine B James on April 30, 2009 at 4:10pm
This is a good system especially for the farmers. But, as Tonga mentioned earlier, the farmers saying it took more than a month to get their money for their grog.....is it true???
Comment by Tonganibeia Karutake aka Beia on April 30, 2009 at 4:50am
Thanks for the good article, it seems that everything is going on well with the farmers happily satisfied that they are receiving their money or goods in exchange for the grog they bring into the shop. Oops just a comment I may be wrong, according to some farmers coming over to Suva, Lautoka, they say that sometimes there is no money and the the farmers are owed their due, is it true, can somebody enlighten on this.................

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