Vanua i Nakorolevu Vua na Turaga na Toro ni Bau;
Vunivesi Turaga na Komai Mua;
Komai Naigani na Kai Batiki;
Lesilesi ni Bose ko Viti, Turaga na Roko Tui Yasa;
Ladies and Gentlemen.
Bula Vinaka and good morning to you all.
It is a joy to be here today to hand over the new Processing Shed that will be used to produce Bula Batiki virgin coconut oil and to commission the new nursing quarters for Batiki.
The Bula Batiki Company is a fine example of what Fijians can do. But more than that, it shows that you don’t have to live in Suva or Lautoka to seize a place in the global economy. This enterprise started in 2017, just three years ago, and the four villages of the Tikina Batiki —Mua, Yavu, Manuku and Naigani—were exporting their oil to the European market. When that became too expensive, they found a market in New Zealand. And I am certain that they will find more markets and export more oil in the coming years.
But I understand that you had been processing the oil in the Yavu Village Community Hall. That might have been acceptable when you were starting out, but a serious and growing business needs a proper place to produce and package its product—a place with adequate space and proper ventilation. And now you have one.
As Prime Minister and as a Fijian, I am very proud of what you four villages are working together for your common benefit to make a high-quality product that can be exported to the world’s most sophisticated markets. You have created the Bula Batiki brand, and you are carrying it forward. The $75,000 invested in this project through the Ministry of Agriculture is well spent and will be repaid many times over by the income this Company will generate for the Fijian economy.
So I am here to commission this Processing Shed, but I am also here to say thank you and congratulate you on behalf of your fellow Fijians.
I am also happy to be able to commission the new solar power system for your nursing station, which is located in Mua Village. The 200 people of this Tikina rely on the services of their local nurse, and we must ensure that the station has the power it needs whenever it needs it. Emergencies and illnesses don’t come on a schedule. We can’t always plan to work when we have power. Any medical facility must have reliable power on demand, 24 hours a day, seven days a week—because lives could depend on it.
And I am very pleased that my Office was able to fund the $72,000 cost of this system under the Small Grants Scheme.
The Small Grants Scheme helps us serve small rural communities. It gives each community a way to tell the Prime Minister’s Office what it needs and to have the project approved and funded quickly, with a minimum of bureaucratic fuss.
As you know, one of my Government’s highest priorities is to create one Fiji by raising the living standards and the opportunities and providing needed Government services in our rural and maritime areas and making sure all our communities are connected. We have done this by providing better access to education and health, and by guaranteeing legal aid and internet services in rural communities. And we do it by extending electrical power and safe water to local communities. We can’t do it all at one. But we are getting it done.
And now, Ladies and Gentlemen, it is my pleasure to officially commission this new Bula Batiki Processing Shed for Virgin Coconut Oil and this new solar power system for your nursing station.
It is my great hope—and my belief—that you will continue to prosper and grow.