LäjeRotuma Initiative


Itu'muta Farmers' Show
18th December, 2013

By Rupeti Vafo'ou

My eyes hurt, body aches, head sore from the late Fara nights and the Dances or Mak fifisi. Since December 1st, three hours of sleep was rather normal for there are always activities or functions to attend.

Twity! Twity! Pretty! My alarm reminded me that this morning was special. Gosh! I had to drag myself out of bed.

The Itu'muta farmers' Show or Manea' Tela'a had already started when i arrived at the 'Viti Kei Rotuma' district hall. Wow! The excitement, the incessant laughter...the atmosphere felt absolutely wonderful. I could hear Jom! Yaaay! Hey! Out! Energy burst like fire. Women playing card game of Lono boosted by the hilarious cheering on the sides. Kids played outside and the others sat like champions beside the Kava bowl and its strong mix of the potent root drink.

Oh no! The men folks of Itu'muta looked tense for that made me nervous. Crops were weighed; only five places available per hit. Bets have been placed. First in a hit with the heaviest or longest of a crop kind gets 5 points, 2nd was 4 points, 3rd was three points, respectively down to fifth place. At the ringside of the weighing area, I saw smiley faces, felt some hearts shattered and tough luck for those farmers whose crops didn't make it to the heavy-weight range.

But in the midst of it all, I realized something really fascinating. There was this man from the neighbouring village whom the Itu'muta men had invited. It was only later that the Chief, Gagaj Oseas told me that this man played the most important role in any farmers' show as Fa pas te ta. His name is Ieli and he assesses the diversity of crops' range of condition and weight, making the final decision. He is gifted with traditional farming knowledge, diversity and taxonomy of crop varieties. His role was to ensure that the competition was fair and transparent.

I was amazed and thankful to witness this event with a different perspective but there are few such people around. Can only hope that the younger farmers are learning as much from elders like him such that the knowledge is passed.

The Itumuta Farmers' Show Trophy for 2013 was won by Gagaj Taimanav who was also the winner last year.

Baskets of banana variety
Basket of pineapples
Ieli at the background observing the weighing of crops.


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