By Alfa · Aug 6, 2004 ·
  1. Alfa

    People of Navosa will continue to plant marijuana unless the
    Government heeds their plight and improves their lifestyle, it has
    been revealed.

    Member for Serua and Navosa Open Pio Wong told the Lower House
    yesterday that people from his constituency had been wondering whether
    they were included in any government development plans.

    "It seems the Government has completely forgotten about them and about
    development in these areas," Mr Wong said.

    "Being a fast and robust crop that grows wild anywhere in the upper
    Navosa areas, marijuana is cultivated like any other crop that
    blossoms, like cherry, attracting a high yield in product and in cash."

    Mr Wong said the cultivation of marijuana by his people was the result
    of the Government's laid-back attitude.

    He explained that the recent change in legislation on drug offences
    would have little effect on the people.

    Marijuana is light and easy to transport and a great volume could be
    moved to the market without much inconvenience," Mr Wong said.

    He said there was a network established for the movement, dumping and
    marketing of marijuana.

    Farmers who have appeared in court have expressed the same sentiments
    during mitigation. "It has links to overseas markets and there are
    some big players Locally," Mr Wong said.

    He said the illegal trade did not need to have good infrastructure, as
    there were many other forms of transportation including using women
    and children as couriers.

    He said on several occasions, marijuana was flown by helicopter and
    that it brought "good money" for the people of Navosa.

    Mr Wong said a sack of tavioka would yield $50 while a sack of
    marijuana would yield millions of dollars. He told Parliament that
    anyone in his right mind would go for the "big bucks".

    He challenged the House of Representatives to visit homes bought and
    furnished from the sales of marijuana.

    Mr Wong said four-wheel drives and three-ton trucks were also bought
    from drug sales.

    He said developments to the Navosa area had been slow in coming during
    the rein of past governments.

    He warned that the Government must repair the roads or forget that the
    province ever existed.

    Mr Wong said that by fixing the roads, social and economic development
    opportunities would arise.

    "If not we will continue to resort to marijuana unless we strike oil
    or gold," he said.

    Agriculture Minister Jonetani Galuinadi said the Government was
    working on an alternative source of income for the province.

    He said after visiting the area last year, the Government had
    established a programme to assist farmers in marketing their crops.

    Source: Fiji Times (Fiji)

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