Christian Mission Fellowship senior pastor Reverend Manasa Kolivuso (middle) with his workers on his ginger farm. Picture: Supplied
By ELIZABETH KOLIVUSO
FROM planting vegetables in our backyards to creating a home-based agricultural business, farming has become one of the most sought-after activities post-COVID-19.
Scattered lands across the country have been cultivated to provide financial relief for many families affected by the global pandemic and its impact on the economy.
In a bid to assist families with their finances, the Family Farm Team project was developed to help families turn their farms into family businesses that would generate steady income and provide financial stability.
The project has reaped some success in the region, as communities in Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands are banding together to plant and harvest more crops for their farming business.
“This approach is a family-based program of workshops that provide a space for men and women from the same family to learn new skills for their families in the future,” said project leader Deborah Hill.
“The popularity of the Family Farm Team training comes from learning that it is both improving livelihoods for farming families and addressing gender inequalities.
“It is also flexible enough to be applied across diverse crops, commodities, and communities.”
Ms Hill said the aim of this project was to ensure that families were profitable and efficient in their farming activities, provided they were encouraged to take up the necessary training and develop aspects of setting goals, communicating and making decisions as a whole family.
This concept has worked well for the Cavuilati family in Verata, Tailevu, who are thriving in their small dalo farming business.
Ratu Nemani Cavuilati said it was hard work toiling the land but it was a good way to provide for his wife and two-year-old son.
“We try to be pro-active in our small business. My Farmers reap rewards target is to plant between 1,000 and 1,500 dalo tops every month,” he said.
“I find dalo farming more profitable and efficient when I started this business.
“It was a bit challenging at first as I had very little planting materials but with the help of generous church friends, I was able to gain at least $300 to $400 every week.”
Mr Cavuilati made sure to use every inch of his land to plant income crops, and this was slowing paying off. He said COVID-19 impacted his family financially and farming seemed a viable solution because he had a lot of acres at his disposal.
“I started off planting subsistence crops and vegetables but with the huge land in my backyard, I knew I could earn more if I used the land wisely.”
He said they hoped to earn more than $500,000 from his farm next year and aimed to expand his farmland for crop cultivation.
This farming tactic augers well with the Sustainable Development Goals of ensuring sustainable communities, and responsible consumption and production.
These activities also encourage sustainable use of resources and land management.
Christian Mission Fellowship senior pastor Reverend Manasa Kolivuso also took a leap of faith when he ventured into ginger farming, on top of his responsibilities at the church.
“I just wanted to experiment with this, to see if it would work as it was my first experience doing ginger farming,” he said.
“It was a risk. I invested between $6,000 and $7,000 in the initial stages and farmed slightly over half an acre.
“I was able to earn $16,000 with a profit of about $11,000.”
He said ginger was a viable commercial crop that could generate a huge return if the right processes were followed.
Ginger farming also meant employment opportunities for youth in the community who wanted to work and earn an income.
“The influence itself in encouraging other people to take it up is important so that they can make maximum use of their land and also be aware of the resources they have to engage in this farming initiative,” Mr Kolivuso said.
Fiji’s agriculture sector was valued around $US690 million ($F1.5 billion) in 2021 and accounted for about 8.1 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the International Trade Administration.
- Elizabeth Kolivuso is a final-year journalism student at USP Laucala Campus. She is also a reporter for Wansolwara, USP Journalism’s student training newspaper and online publication.