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"We can't provide you with luxury.."

Posted by Elizabeth Johnston on
"We can't provide you with luxury.."

These were the words offered to me by Mare Varea of Rotuma on a recent visit. Mare is the sister of Hiagi Foreate who is closely tied with the Council of Rotuma. Rotuma is an organic, volcanic island, 460km north of Fiji and unique for being the first island to be Certified Organic with the Australian Certified Organic

Why did I go? It was 3 years in planning and a place that's been growing in my heart for sometime.  I'm hoping to sourcing tamanu and virgin coconut oil in the future, I'm also helping the island on their path to being the first ever wholly Certified Organic island.  

This will be a huge accomplishment for an island so small and remote and the first of it's kind. 

Why go through the challenges of being Certified Organic when Rotuma have been farming organically for almost 10 years?  It's because they see it as a means to grow economically, sustainably and independently.   Rotumans regularly refuse offers of funds from foreign investors who wish to further their own agricultural and tourism interests. As the world races towards the investment of scarce resources, the Rotumans have chosen to preserve their island values of Unity and Community.  Their only challenge is to communicate this to their youth to in still pride in their island and provide employment opportunities to ensure the tight knit communities retain their unity. 

I met with the youth on the island to explain the enormous opportunities that await them should they remain on the island and focus on organic farming. The lack of communication on the island is a main concern as the internet speed is extremely limiting and electricity is only available between the hours of 6pm and 9pm per day.  Understandably,  the young want to engage with the world around them, and see monetary wealth as the ultimate in success although lets hope with more work, they'll see the huge potential that is beneath their feet and within their own community and build Rotuma to being an example of successful sustainable development for the future. 


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