Island News

Keeping the farming traditions alive

Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Jai Chand of Baloca Settlement in Dreketi, Vanua Levu has made a lot of sacrifices in his life to achieve everything that he has
30 Aug 2008 12:00

Written By : Sun Fiji Newsroom. Jai Chand of Baloca Settlement in Dreketi, Vanua Levu has made a lot of sacrifices in his life to achieve everything that he has today.
The 43-year-old farmer was born and brought up in Labasa and together with his 77-year-old father have been maintaining their 50 acres of farm land.
Currently due to a few minor illnesses, Jai’s father, Latch Ram has been resting away from the farm so the onus has been on Jai to perform the farm tasks diligently.
“I am proud to say that my grandfather was the one that developed this farm during the girmit days after working as an indentured laborer,” smiled Jai.
“My grandfather passed away at a very old age, a little more than 100 years and I believe it was through eating the right food and working a lot on the farm which prolonged his age till he passed away,” smiled Jai.
“This piece of land holds so many memories for my family so that is one reason, I am keeping our farm alive,” he said.
“My grandfather treasured this land more than anything because it gave back so much to the family and that is why I am holding on the reins as hard as I can to keep our tradition as hard workers alive,” he smiled proudly.
To date Jai owns 120 sheep, 78 goats 22 cows with dozens of chickens and ducks and is still counting as the reproduction cycle of the animals on the farm keep increasing.
“I also have 15 acres of coconuts, five acres of rice and plant vegetables in half an acre and I believe that over the years, my farm will keep on expanding,” he laughed.
The lighthearted farmer said that all the work done on the farm was done through perseverance and hard work.
“Nothing in life comes easy and I can stand by that because when we started again after everything that we had faced, we started off with only nine sheep in the grazing fields and now our animal kingdom has doubled over the years,” he said.
For Jai, the piece of land that they own and toil has been manna from heaven as everything that was initially planned in the development stages has been materializing before their eyes.
In his five acres of rice paddy, Jai has been producing five tonnes of rice during the main season and three tonnes during the off-season as he does not use the whole field.
All work on the farm has been made easy with the use of farming implements and sometimes he prefers to using the traditional tools of farming of which mostly is drawn by his working bullocks.
Jai applies a lot of tender love and care for his animals and practices good management by building sheds for the animals during the very wet days and for the cold nights
“When we are given responsibilities to perform, we should do them with renewed vigor and my wife and I put in a lot of effort to keep our animals safe so that they are able to grow well,” smiled Jai.
Jai spends a lot of time on his farm and visits the crops and the animals every morning to greet them.
“It is important because then there will be a mutual understanding between us and I always want to inspect them to see how they are doing.”
His animals and crops have no problems in feed and water as there is an abundance of grass and a water source straight from the mountains to his land.
Jai is grateful for the support shown by his family on his farm and says that his wife has been a pillar of strength for him during the most difficult days.
“She has been keeping up with me on farm records and knows how to handle matters of the farm when I am engaged in other matters and I am indebted to her for that,” he said.
Good relationships in the community have also been an onus for the Chand’s which they believe have been part and parcel of the blessings that they receive from the Good Lord above.
“During the 2000 political takeover, there were so many thefts in the neighbouring farms and even damaging of property but ours was not even touched,” he smiled.
Jai said that forging good relationships with neighbors has a lot of advantages and this was something that his grandfather had taught his father and was passed on to him.
When questioned on what he thought of the increase in food items internationally, Jai said that Fiji had nothing to worry about.
“There is so much land which still lies idle and if all the stakeholders can act together, a lot can be achieved and we can all grow our own food,” he explained.
“The problem in our society today is that we leave things at the last minute and I hope that parents will work hard for a stable future for their children.”
Jai has a lot of plans in the pipeline and one of them is setting up his own fish pond.
The ponds have already been dug up and we are just waiting for the fish to arrive and I am grateful for the assistance of the Ministry of Primary Industries in all aspects of my farm,” he said.
Acting Senior Agricultural Officer (Animal Health and Production) in the North, Mr Aminiasi Sivo said that Jai’s farm production has been impressive over the years.
“We enjoy working with him and taking him through livestock training as he is a very keen and fast learner and he is also one of the model farms here in the North,” explained Mr Sivo.
Assistance was also given to Jai some years back which Mr Sivo said has been maintaining his farm well.
“Regular visits and technical advice to Jai has done him a world of good as he has been practicing it on his farm every time.”
Coupled with their ability to perform no matter the difficult circumstances that they sometimes face, Jai has been taking each day as it comes.
“Farming came naturally to me and I believe that everyone can farm, all you need is patience and determination to succeed and a lot of sacrifices have to be made,” he explained.
“The secret to success for me has been through hard work and I believe that if anybody tried it, he would surely succeed.”

By Kuini Waqasavou- Ministry of Primary Industries

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