Welcome to Lower Sigatoka Valley
This fertile river valley is known as Fiji’s ‘salad bowl’. Cereals, vegetables, fruits, peanuts and sugar cane are grown here, mostly on small-scale farms. Much of the produce ends up at the municipal markets, and vegetables such as eggplant, chilli and okra, and root crops such as dalo (taro), tavioka (cassava) and yams are exported to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the USA. It’s overlooked by a wind farm on the horizon, and when we visited in 2011 a major (and much-needed) road upgrade was underway. In the meantime, it’s slow-going and pot-holed, but OK for all vehicles in good weather.
Two valley villages are known for their pottery: Lawai and Nakabuta. Both welcome visitors, who are encouraged to give a community donation of around $5 per person to look around. None of the pots are made using machines or even a potter’s wheel. Instead, local sand and clay is mixed together using the heel of the foot and the somewhat uneven pots are then formed by hand. These are sun dried and fired in open fires, along with other small items, such as pottery pigs and bure, which are sold by individual families.