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Basa Exchange assists affected Fijians


Jun 23, 2021 01:49:00 PM

Basa Exchange assists affected Fijians Local non-government organisation Rise Beyond the Reef is reaching out to families residing in COVID-19 locked down areas and frontline workers with its “Basa Exchange” project.

The project is helping farmers in remote communities of Naitasiri, Ra and Ba to generate revenue by sourcing crops and vegetables from them and distributing to COVID-19 affected Fijians.

They buy on average at $75 per household.

 The organisation works with the Commissioner Central and Eastern Divisions to identify families that need assistance.

 Rise Beyond the Reed director and co-founder Janet Lotawa said the crops sourced from farmers are mostly delivered to families on “lockdown” in the Suva/Nausori containment areas and to frontliners.

 “Everyone in Fiji is impacted by COVID-19, but in different ways. Most of the response schemes do not include rural remote communities as actors to help address the needs. So, this is an opportunity for rural remote communities to be suppliers in the aid relief efforts around food security,” she said.

 “We work year all year on community-led value and supply chains. So having existing relationships with communities, trust and an understanding of how to partner with communities and government to operate remotely is core to our regular work.”

 More than 1,000 families in the Nadi, Lautoka, Ba and Suva areas have received crops and vegetables through the project.

 In terms of earnings, communities will earn about $140,000 as suppliers through the project by the end of August.

 To date, communities have earned $41,825.

 Lotawa said the organisation was focused on promoting circular economies.

 “Remote communities tend to have greater crop abundance than urban and peri urban communities. Remote communities also tend to have very limited formal economic inclusion and therefore do not have FNPF or other benefits that those closer to town have access to."

"They are often more cash poor, especially coming off two major storms in the last six months and during the pandemic, where the market value of their crops has dwindled.”

“Through this Basa Exchange, we pay remote communities at village gate close to a retail price for their produce and it’s then provided to food insecure communities in urban/peri-urban areas.”

The NGO had also assisted 350 families from remote communities in the Ba and Ra areas with food rations during the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic last year.

By Reginald Chandar


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