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Grant Helps Labasa Farmer Grow Income

Grant Helps Labasa Farmer Grow Income
Dewan Chand (front), with his wife Suman Lata at their Navua farm on January 26, 2018. Photo: Sheldon Chanel
January 27
11:00 2018

Imagine having to leave your home, friends and fam­ily in search of a chance at putting food on the table.

That is the story of Dewan Chand, 47, a farmer of Kurukuru, Labasa currently applying his trade in the remote Navua sub-division settlement of Raiwaqa.

The farming settlement, resting on the banks of the Na­vua River, is home to several farmers from Labasa who travelled south after their land leases expired.

Farmers like Mr Chand, who work in remote locations, underpin the $451 million contribution made by the ag­riculture sector to the nation’s Gross Domestic Product.

Mr Chand had been a sugarcane farmer until 2002, but switched to cash crop farming when he moved to Navua.

He successfully applied for the Government Micro and Small Business Grant in 2015 and used the $1000 to pur­chase farming tools and seeds to increase his production.

“I have been a cash crop farmer for 16 years and have faced many difficulties along the way,” he said.

“The grant did help me quite a bit. I have managed to put all my three children through school using my earn­ings.”

He travels a few kilometres to NavuaTown every Satur­day to sell his produce. On good days, he said his incomes can rise to as much as $400.

The rest of the week is spent on the farm, tending to his coriander, cabbage, cassava, dalo, lettuce and other crops. The four-acre farm, he said, was ravaged by Cy­clone Winston in 2016.

“We are still recovering from the damages it caused to our crops and house,” he said.

“I wish we could apply for the grant a second time to ex­pand my business further with a larger variety of crops or maybe even livestock.”

Edited by Jonathan Bryce

Feedback: sheldon.chanel@fijisun.com.fj

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