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Villagers of Wailevu in Cakaudrove with yasi plants. Picture: MAIKA RABALEILEKUTU
WAILEVU villagers in Cakaudrove have embarked on a yasi tree planting project to safeguard the welfare and wellbeing of their future generations.
Village headman Tevita Beka said the villagers have started working with the Department of Forestry.
Villagers attended a workshop on seed preparation and soil mixing for Wailevu's newly constructed yasi farm.
He said the villagers had started preparing the yasi nursery where young plants would be transferred to the farms.
Mr Beka said the village environment appeared ideal for yasi production with well-drained, sandy soil and an ideal climate.
"Our village already has several mature trees producing seeds and seedlings for the nursery," Mr Beka said.
He said the villagers hoped to be the centre for yasi and yasi seedling production for the province.
"The village demonstrated exceptional leadership and motivation by taking the initiative to build the nursery using local materials following a consultation with the Department of Forestry in June.
"I was surprised and impressed with the effort the villagers undertook to build the nursery," said forest staff member Emitai Rakuro
"Their views on sandalwood tree nursery are an important part of its long-term economic investment strategy and while some income may be derived from the sale of seeds and seedlings, the primary focus is on the future," Mr Beka said.
He said sandalwood would supplement the short to mid-term income of dalo, yaqona, virgin coconut oil, and copra.
"Sandalwood is currently selling for about $70 per kilogram and a single 20-25 year old tree can fetch as much as $40 a kilogram."
He said price would be expected to rise as the Chinese market expanded.
"We hope to start a new tradition of planting yasi trees so that when a child grows, they can use the yasi for export and make good money to support their families."
Alfred Cook, Peace Corps Volunteer in Wailevu village said he was thankful to the valuable training and assistance provided by the Department of Forestry.
"Nursery is testament to the vision of the community, which is increasingly relying on their own resources, ingenuity, and innovation to raise the standard of living in Wailevu Village," Mr Cook said.