Rabuku has faith in ginger farming
Written By : Josevata Raibevu, Ministry of Primary Industries. He is no stranger to farming, but Samuela Tikoibau Rabuku aged 46 of Raralevu in Tailevu is totally at sea when it comes to growing ginger.
“Everyone in Fiji knows that ginger is synonymous with the province of Naitasiri”, said Rabuku.
“Although there are farmers in the nearby villages of Maomi, Namata, Mokani and their neighbouring settlements growing the crop on small scale, it is a totally new crop to me and my family”.
“I have not planted the crop until now and everything concerning this crop from land preparation, planting, management and harvesting are totally new to me”.
“However, I have been given to understand that it has a lot of potential to earn good money if managed properly”, Mr. Rabuku said.
“As a novice, I am starting with 10 acres of the crop on my 22 acres farm with two acres planted with dalo”.
“I am also a business man taking a risk that could mean big money if everything goes as planned.
My confidence in the crop is based on the assistance and advice of those farmers who had been growing the crop in Momi and Mokani which had made my work a lot easier”.
“It is also based on the support and advice of the staff of the Department of Agriculture who are always here when I needed them”.
“That is how we have worked together to produce this 10 acre ginger crop of which seven (7) acres is currently being harvested as baby ginger and the remaining three (3) acres will be used as planting materials for the next crop”. So far they have harvested 40 tonnes of baby ginger with some of the crop still to be harvested.
Mr Rabuku said that he has a market ready to buy his crop at a reasonable price and was looking forward to receiving his first income from the new crop.
“I have a contract with Fresh Pac to buy my ginger and the price that I have been told is $0.85 cents a kilogram and if all go well; it seems most likely that the risk I have taken has been worthwhile”.
“If it continues on this trend then my aim is to be the biggest supplier of baby ginger in the province of Tailevu”.
Those who know Mr. Rabuku know that that is not an idle boast when it comes to farming – an occupation that he has been involved in for years.
‘I am a first timer in this crop and the biggest challenge for me is to fully understand the finer details of getting a good harvest with top quality ginger”.
“Once I master that and provided that the price of the crop remain lucrative, my aim is to increase the area under the ginger by cultivating as much of the idle land on our farm as possible”.
Rabuku’s farm is a family farm where family members contribute to develop their family land with income generating projects.
“Most of the funds invested in the farm had come from family members that are now staying in the United States”.
Mr Rabuku manages the farm for his family.
Apart from ginger, they also grow dalo, cassava and vegetables. They currently have two acres of dalo, but their priority crop is ginger.
“The long dry spell at the beginning of this year had some effects on crops like Dalo and cassava, but we are fortunate for the rain that also saved the crop and enable us to sell those crops at the market.
For people who wish to seriously take up farming, Mr. Rabuku’s advice is that they should secure a market first and produce according to market requirements.
“Farmers should discus with their markets first before planting any crops on commercial level, so that farmers will know the market requirements on the crop to grow, the accepted varieties, quality requirements, the quantity needed and the time to supply the commodity”, he stressed.
The days of planting the crops first and run around looking for markets when the crop is about to be harvested, is over.
There are many farmers now producing the same crops and competing for the same markets, so it is advisable to always secure a market first and produce for that market what it requires.”
“If you have a contract with a buyer, then you should learn to stick with that buyer and not be easily enticed into changing if another buyer offers a better price”.
“If you are faithful to your contracted buyer, then that buyer will return the favour”.
The people of Maomi, Mokani and Namata are assisting Mr Rabuku to harvest his entire baby ginger crop. “I have made an arrangement with them to harvest the crop and we have agreed on a mode of payment after the harvest is completed”.
Mr Saiasi Tubuna the Senior Agricultural Officer Tailevu said that the Ministry does not have any allocation for Ginger for Tailevu as the allocation is only for farmers in Naitasiri and Serua/Namosi.
“Tailevu is also suitable for ginger as it has fertile land with access road and nearby to the populated areas of Suva, Nausori and Korovou, said Mr Tubuna.
Mr Rabuku said the intercropping of dalo and water melon will start soon after the seven acres of ginger are harvested.
“Watermelon is a short term crop that can bring quick income to the farm as we wait to plant the next crop of ginger”.
Apart from ginger and dalo, the Rabuku family also has nine bee hives as an additional source of income.
“Our long term plan is to build more houses on the farm and invest in our children’s education, “said Mr Rabuku
With the kind of money that the family will get from ginger and their ambitious plans to expand the cultivation of this crop on their farm, it seems the Rabuku are on the right track to realising their dream.