Semi is from Nalotawa Village, Yakete, Ba. He grew up in the traditional setting of his village, attended a remote boarding school and is one of about five percent of students from his district that graduated from high school. Semi worked in forestry with a focus on sustainable community development. He is a co-founder of Rise Beyond the Reef.
For the rural remote women of Fiji, feeling left out is nothing new. It is no surprise that in Fiji only those who have worked in the formal sector with FNPF (national pension fund) accounts can receive economic stimulus.
It may have taken a global crisis to clarify what really works in this cultural context. At Rise Beyond the Reef, we are expanding our efforts to promote food sovereignty, focusing not just on food security, but also on the problems caused by marginalization and economic dependency. In these remote Fijian communities, there is a trust and understanding that we can find ways to support each other with “currencies” beyond money — this is much the Pacific way.
How is this support accomplished? To start to value traditional foods, to promote traditional medicine, and to return the solesolevaki way of farming. By starting with a communal farm “food/seed basket” where communities plant their source materials together — to ensure a greater likelihood of crop success – before taking it to their individual farms.
“We are working to strengthen the Na I likoliko ni Vanua — the land given to women when married into a tribe to help establish her family and food source. The greatest successes we have seen in villages with arts and crafts production come from women working together regularly”
These groups always produce the highest level of participation, consistent supply, timely delivery, and quality. While the tourist market remains dormant for the next six to twelve months, we are shifting our focus to food, health, and wellness products for the remaining open markets.