Island News

Yaqona farming benefits village

Written By : Kuini Waqasavou Department of Agriculture. Government has introduced a lot of programmes to assist those in the rural and outer islands and so much has come about
16 Oct 2010 12:00

image Written By : Kuini Waqasavou Department of Agriculture. Government has introduced a lot of programmes to assist those in the rural and outer islands and so much has come about in terms of development, especially in village settings as well as communities.
The Department of Agriculture has put in place several programmes that target farmers in the various areas around the country which is basically demand driven.
The various Demand Driven Approach programmes that are in place are the Rural and Outer Island Programme (ROI), Import Substitution Programme (ISP), Export Promotion Programme (EPP) and the Sigatoka Valley Improvement Programme (SVIP).
One such village is Cavaga Village which is situated in the Province of Bua in the Northern Division and is part of the Tikina of Nadi. The village is testimony to the assistance that has been given by Government.
With two clans (Yavusa) and four landowning units (Mataqali), the village has been thriving on their determination to succeed on their farm.
Through a dream that was born 11 years ago, Cavaga Village has been steadily climbing up the ladder of success and yet, they feel they still have a long way to go.
With about 100 acres of potential farming land which is situated about seven kilometers from the village, youths from the village have been sincerely cultivating yaqona on a large scale using only half of their land and have also been reaping the rewards.
Lorasio Lolo, 64 is one of the members of the mataqali o Nadilau and is witness to the great changes that have been taking place in the village over the years.
“With a strong Catholic background, Cavaga Village elders decided 11 years ago to set up a village farm that would benefit the whole village in terms of social and religious obligations,” said Lolo.
“Their foresight saw the strong implementation of the solesolevaki method of farming which is working together on a farm in unity to complete the task at hand.” It was strenuous work and the challenges faced by everyone who climbed the steep path up to the yaqona farm were endless,” explained Lolo.
“We are still finding it hard in terms of the road conditions to the farm but this has not stopped us from continuing our journey of farming as a business,” smiled Lolo.
After several harvests from their yaqona farm, Cavaga elders and the village committee saw it fit to purchase a truck and deposited a total of $20,000 in cash and paid the rest of the $20,000 in installments.
“We also managed to build flush toilets for each of the 22 households in the village which is also a much healthier option since there have been serious incidences of typhoid from areas around the country.”
“We are also extending our village hall and I am proud to say that this has all come about from our yaqona farm income,” smiled Lolo proudly.
“We have always been selling our yaqona at $30.00 per kilogramme to our dealer in Suva who is just one of the many young men from our village who have decided to move to Suva to pursue their dreams and this has worked out well for us,” explained Lolo.
“Youths in the village have been constantly reminded of their roles as future leaders who need to make wise and important decisions in their lives for their betterment in the future,” added Lolo.
“During village meetings, youths are reminded of their monthly planting programmes which are planting 300 yaqona and 300 dalo plants every month per person,” explained Lolo.
“At every meeting, villager elders never fail to thank the young farmers for their continuous efforts and also encourage them for the task at hand and the need for them to be serious about farming on a commercial level.”
“We are also grateful for the support of the women in the village for without whom success would never have been possible,” said Lolo.
“The women have been continuously vigilant in their efforts in looking after the men of the village who go to the farm and this is in terms of their food, health as well as preparing their clothes when they have to camp at the farm site,” added Lolo.
“Most of us believe that through their natural instinct as mothers in nurturing us and giving us the best food as well as care, we are also able to play our parts well in the farm and we are indeed indebted to them,” smiled Lolo.
Currently, the farm has about 5000 yaqona plants that are ready to be harvested and about 5000 yaqona plants that have been planted in phases so as to keep the continuity in supply to their market.
Lolo is forever grateful for the much needed assistance that they received from Government under its Import Substitution Programme (ISP).
Senior Agriculture Officer (Bua) Ilisoni Banuve says that Cavaga Village received $2603.00 worth of assistance which was agro-inputs, chain saw as well as knapsack sprayers.
“Even with the little assistance that they received, the village farming project managed to outweigh all the challenges and obstacles that they were faced with and gave it their all,” explained Banuve.
“This is evident in what they have achieved and have injected into their individual homes as well as their village as a whole.”
Banuve says that this is the kind of development that Government needs in terms of unity and dedication as well as looking after the welfare of its future generation.
“The village committee had set up their plans and goals and sacrificed a lot to get to where they are today and all we did was to step in and meet them half-way,” said Banuve.
“These are the kind of development projects that Government is willing to assist but all we need is for the farmers to play their part and we will step in to assist them in whatever way we can,” explained Banuve.
Lolo says that everything that they have achieved today is attributed to the farm and they believe that the sky is the limit.
“There are so many exciting plans for the village in terms of farming as a business and we believe that we will be able to achieve them,” said Lolo confidently.
“Confidence is something that most villagers lack and that is something that should not be taught but taken on as a challenge.”
“Believing in ourselves was the first step and we are proud to have achieved so many things from income earned from the farm.”
The dedication and commitment shown by Cavaga Village augers well with Government’s policies and guidelines in trying to develop the country in terms of farming for a living to create better livelihoods.
Many farmers around the country are taking advantage of Government’s Demand Driven Approach (DDA) programmes and to apply for such assistance, farmers need to contact their locality field officers and discuss their plans with them.
DDA programmes was initiated by Government in a bid to create better lives for rural dwellers and their future generations, which in turn contributes positively to the country’s economy.

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