Island News

A mum with a difference

Written By : Monika Mala . While the country is beaming with Mothers Day celebrations, culminating with Sunday May 10, the actual day for the occasion, there are many mothers
13 May 2009 12:00

image Written By : Monika Mala . While the country is beaming with Mothers Day celebrations, culminating with Sunday May 10, the actual day for the occasion, there are many mothers currently busy in a profession in which their efforts are often unnoticed.
Farming unlike in the past is no longer a male only profession. In those years men were the ones to cultivate the land and fetch food for the family. But these days, many women, as mothers work either hand-in-hand with their husbands or solely themselves on the farms.
Many also work as farm laborers to earn a living for themselves and their family. Even some of them have been harvesting sugar cane which is re-known as all male dominated profession.
Most of them can also be seen around markets mainly on Saturdays selling farm produce.
These mothers do all these mainly to assist their husbands or earn a living for themselves and their families. However, me disappointing thing is that their efforts in the profession of tilling the land, or fishing at sea, usually for reasons not known, goes unnoticed.
But one such mother has embarked on a project through which her efforts will definitely be noticed.
Starting small and planning to establish an agro-tourism business is the dream of this determined farmer based at Waivusi, Navua.
Diana Narayan (40) is a strong outspoken woman with versatile abilities. Being brought up in a farming community and well versed with farming practices, left her with no choice but to explore more in farming.
Diana is part-Fijian, so she finds it no problem to communicate in Fijian, Hindi and English languages. After staying for a couple of years in New Zealand she opted for farming in Fiji as she believes there is a lot of potential and huge return in it. Diana is married with four children.
She leased 56 acres of land in the up hills of Waivusi and now it has been three years she is forging ahead in this business.
“Farming is a lucrative business and with available resources and support from the family has given me strength to undertaken this big responsibility”, said Diana proudly.
She said that her father was a well known rice farmer of his time and mother was mostly involved in floriculture activities.
“I started small but with lot of plans in my mind to flourish in farming,” said Diana.
Diana’s farm is situated on a hilly area, so it took her some time to prepare the land for farming initially she started with cane knife and chainsaw to clear the land.
“I took loan from Fiji Development Bank and some of my personal savings, I invested into this business,” said Diana.
Waivusi is quite in the interior but the weather over there is very cool, surrounded by huge trees and hardly one can notice any house.
“The surrounding environment is a major contributing factor in determining the type of crops to be grown,” she said.
“I have grown ginger in a sloppy land in an area of quarter acre”.
“Similarly I have also cultivated pineapple in about half acre of sloppy land”.
“Ginger and pineapple can easily be cultivated in such types of land and the environmental condition helped enabled its growth,” said Diana.
In addition to these commodities I have also started up with cassava farming in separate blocks of land which approximately accounts for an acre.
Diana believes there is readily available market for agro-produce and she sometimes feels she cannot fulfill the growing demand.
“I supply pineapples to hotel sector and sometimes to the market as well,” said Diana.
Recently Diana has harvested two tonnes of immature ginger and orders keep coming up for more, so she is extending and clearing the land for more farming.
“Immature ginger goes to the local market but I have saved the matured ginger for the seeds for the next season of planting.” said Diana.
She added that with growing demand for yaqona and a lot being imported in our country she also started small in yaqona farming with only 400 mounts.
“I normally apply poultry manure during land preparation and other fertilizers such as NPK during its stages of growth,” she said.
Diana has managed to buy a digger from farm income for land clearing purpose. She has built a wooden house using the logs and bamboos from her own piece of land.
She believes that area where she is settled in is optimum for agro-tourism and this is one of her future plans.
“First I want to establish as a role model farmer and especially being a women gives a lot of courage to tell the world that women are not left behind even in farming,” said Diana.
Diana added that once she makes a proper road and organizes everything from farm to home, then she will invite and open opportunities for tourists to explore her farm.
“My farm has very fine scenery view and since it is located at the top it really captures the beauty of nature,” said Diana.
When need arises Diana hires labourers on her farm for weeding, harvesting and spraying purposes.
Currently all her children are staying overseas except for her only daughter and she gets full support from her husband on farm activities.
Diana strongly believes in self – employment and she is encouraging other ladies to take the challenge of farming then one will really recognize its value.
A happy Mothers Day from the Agriculture Ministry.

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