A Farm to Call his Own

SANJAY Prasad could not have envisioned himself owning a 10-acre farm at 30 years old. However it was the influence of his parents, Durga Prasad and Savita Devi, that made him decide on the course.

“My parents come from a farming family. And you know how hardworking people in the rural areas are. They always have the affinity for the countryside and the life there. Despite my family’s move to Suva for our education and employment, my father made sure that we didn’t forget our life up there.”

Every week Sanjay, his siblings and parents would make it a norm to visit the farm, which is located in Lomaivuna, Naitasiri.”It wasn’t easy starting out. I had to use most of my savings to hire machines to clear the land and then applied for a loan at the Fiji Development Bank (FDB) to carry out the necessary work on the land,” said the Fiji Electricity Authority (FEA) worker.

When a team from this newspaper visited the farm in Naitasiri, we were greeted by the green ginger plants flowering along the slopes of the land. Sanjay and his family had already planted about one acre of ginger, a separate acre was also taken up for cassava.

It costs the family about $40,000 to clear the land and bring it to where it is. “We really struggled to clear the land, but at the end of the day, we managed to do it. With my savings and loan, I’m able to get a tractor, a digger and a carrier. I really want to get this farm going and register it as a commercial farm,” said the aspiring businessman who calls himself a “kai Naitasiri”.

Sanjay plans to go into aquaculture soon. “We’ve set aside land for tilapia and prawns — I want to breed this commercially.”His long-term goal is to register his farm as an agricultural company and be a supplier of crops in the local market. Later on he intends to go into exporting “if everything goes according to plan”.”In a way this farming project has brought my family together. We all pitched in to get this farm going. It’s great,” said Sanjay.

“The best thing about farming is that it keeps you fit, it makes you goal oriented and you spend a lot of time with family. I’ve never regretted going into this venture,” he said with a smile

The Fiji Times, 19, February, 2017. Fiji