Duruka farming gives good returns

Written By : Monika Mala Ministry of Primary Industries. Duruka is a delicious, widely preferred vegetable that has similar appearance as sugarcane. It is mostly grown in Vunidawa in the
20 Nov 2009 12:00

image Written By : Monika Mala Ministry of Primary Industries. Duruka is a delicious, widely preferred vegetable that has similar appearance as sugarcane.
It is mostly grown in Vunidawa in the Central Division.
Duruka farming is done all over Vunidawa.
Whether it is a flat land or hilly land, duruka grows well in any condition and in most parts of the country.
Duruka, an asparagus-like vegetable, fetches a very good price and is in demand in Fiji.
Many farmers in Vunidawa are taking advantage of this because it is also a delicacy for many people and is served in a variety of dishes.
Forty-three-year-old Nabena villager, Nasoni Katudrau, has been into this business for a very long time.
He believes the crop has great potential in Fiji.
Mr Katudrau is married with five boys; two are studying, two are already in paid employment while one stays at home.
He owns a five acre land through a native lease agreement.
One acre is planted with duruka and he also grows cassava, dalo and ginger to supplement his income.
“Duruka is a seasonal crop which grows very easily and requires very low cost of production with very good returns,” said Mr Katudrau.
Mr Katudrau added that during the main season he took full advantage of the huge demand for the crop.
Other crops supplement his earning when duruka is off-season.
He grows both the hybrid and local variety of duruka.
The crop matures a year after planting and there is usually excess in the market during April.
Early this year his farm was badly damaged by the devastating floods that affected Fiji.
He only managed to sell 800 bundles at $3 per bundle. He earned $2400.
Mr Katudrau prefers to plant the red variety because it can be harvested twice a year compared to the green variety which does not give much yield and is not in high demand.
“I follow the traditional method of planting this crop since there is not much awareness on proper cultivation of duruka,” said Mr Katudrau.
When he started duruka farming, he borrowed stems from other farmers.
Today he is helping other farmers by supplying stems.
Though he believes that duruka germinates easily, he stresses the need to manage them well by controlling weeds and practising good farm hygiene.
“Duruka is planted once but we can keep harvesting the same plant every year and it spreads very quickly with minimum plant management.
“Duruka has very low production cost. It does not require fertiliser to enhance growth because it is a very vigorous growing plant.
“Normally we plant duruka on unfertile land and let it grow for two years before it is uprooted for another crop to be planted there. We have tested and seen that yield also improves for other crops after growing duruka because it plays an important role in improving soil fertility,” he added.
He said that duruka was not planted with other crops because it spreads quickly and overruns other crops.
“Duruka needed a lot of rain for proper growth which gives the leaf bright green colours.”
Mr Katudrau said duruka should be harvested immediately when it matured.
Delay in harvest can damage the crop.
“Though the flesh of duruka is well enclosed within its leaves, during heavy rain the crops can get damaged so one has to be on time with the harvest,” he added.
“Sometimes pests known as Lasai also affect the crop when it is ready for harvest and can ruin the whole crop within one night. We have to harvest at the right time,” said Mr Katudrau.
When the plant reaches the height of six feet and gets fully matured, it is harvested by cutting just below the flower.
Mr Katudrau said fellow villagers helped harvest the crop during maturity.
Normally it takes three to four days to harvest the crop.
He has 2000 plants on the ground and a plant can give 20 duruka. In a bundle, he binds around 13 durukas and sells them for $3 per bundle.
“Duruka can even be harvested early and stored in a dry place which prevents it from rotting,” he added.
Market availability is not a problem for farmers because local food manufacturing company, Food Processors (Fiji) Limited, buys duruka directly from farmers.
“About two months before the crop is ready for harvest, procurement officers from the processing company come to us to discuss and make a deal on the price and transportation,” he added.
Mr Katudrau said the company assisted them with transportation and they offered 50 per cent for transportation cost.
“Sometimes when the demand and value is good in local markets, we also supply directly to the Suva Market,” he said.
“We are grateful to the Ministry in linking us to our potential market because in the past it has been difficult to sell duruka during the main season. There is always a glut in the market that reduces the value of our crop and our profits are not very good.”
Mr Katudrau said Food Processors paid well for duruka.
The company buys and process duruka by canning it for export.
“We are calling on the Research Division of the ministry to assist us with proper cultivation methods of this crop so that we can step up production and contribute positively to Fiji’s efforts in promoting and exporting of duruka.”
“In general, there is no proper spacing and control methods and fertiliser requirement for the crop. Duruka is left on its own to grow with little crop management,” he added.
Mr Katudrau uses income generated from his duruka farm to cater for his basic needs, send his children to school, as well purchase farm equipment.

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