SUVA – On a trip to Vanua Levu from December 8-9, U.S. Ambassador Joseph Cella met with a variety of stakeholders in Savusavu and Labasa to strengthen the ties to business and civil society networks. Ambassador Cella, on this third trip up North, engaged in dialogues, site visits and discussed opportunities for partnership.
Ambassador Cella said, “It was great building and fortifying bridges with the entrepreneurs and community members who are committed to growing opportunities in the North. Through such ongoing engagements, we will work to convert challenges into opportunities, and ultimately, successes. The United States is proud to partner with the people and organizations of Vanua Levu for a more prosperous future. And it is always a delight to be in the midst of the unique and diverse natural beauty of Vanua Levu.”
On Tuesday, December 8, Ambassador Cella and his colleagues from USAID, Peace Corps and the Political Economic Section of the Embassy visited the Kokomana Chocolate factory to learn about the tree to bar cacao process. Kokomana was awarded a sub-grant from Nature Fiji which received a US-funded $40,000 grant to develop sustainable tourism. They met with the Savusavu Chamber of Commerce to discuss the development of the town and how the plague has affected them, setting the stage for ongoing engagements including with local farmers with experts in the United States through a Fiji Forward online forum. He also met with several beneficiaries from the USAID-funded Climate Ready training of trainers to discuss the impact of the project.
On Wednesday, December 9, Ambassador Cella planted a tree at the breathtaking Urata Overlook with the Mataqali Urata and the Rotary Club of Savusavu in preparation for a U.S.-funded project to develop the overlook over Savusavu Bay for future tourism visitors, and especially the benefit of local community. He also met with the Labasa Chamber of Commerce to hear their concerns and ideas for collaboration in the future, opening the door for a future Fiji Forward online forum.