The race against time

Written By : KUINI WAQASAVOU Department of Agriculture. With so many dreams and aspirations to achieve, 32-year-old Eroni Vunirova feels that he is racing against time. The hardworking gentleman who
26 Nov 2010 12:00

image Written By : KUINI WAQASAVOU Department of Agriculture. With so many dreams and aspirations to achieve, 32-year-old Eroni Vunirova feels that he is racing against time.
The hardworking gentleman who lived most of his life in Nakobo Village moved back to his original village in Daviqele, Nabukelevu, Kadavu in June this year.
Mr Vunirova recalls while growing up in the village, the various activities that were carried out by everyone and the unity he felt within his village.
This was the driving force that he needed to learn the important values of life.
“I reached Form Five level and made up my mind to toil the land with everything that I had because I have witnessed the great rewards that the land offers,” Mr Vunirova said smiling.
He wasted no time and started working on his farm. He managed to plant tausala (variety of dalo) and yaqona in the hundreds.
“My family was proud of me and I knew that my farming skills and strength were put to great use in toiling the land,” he said.
A few years ago, after a ceremony was performed by the chief of Daviqele and its elders, Mr Vunirova and his family were asked to return to their roots in Kadavu.
Gladly accepting the offer, his family moved to Daviqele to start a new life while he stayed back to harvest his crops and settle some unfinished businesses.
“It was a hard time for us as we said goodbye to our old lives, not knowing what our lives would be like in our new home,” he said.
“After moving to Daviqele in June this year, I saw the richness the land could offer and I knew we had struck a pot of gold.”
He and his other brothers got together and drew up a farming programme, with the assistance and guidance of an agricultural official based in the tikina of Nabukelevu.
“We named our farming group ‘Uprising Buresha’. We started off with only three cane knives and two spades and I must admit, it was a big challenge,” Mr Vunirova said.
With the theme “Sow to harvest”, Mr Vunirova and his three other brothers began their quest for a better life.
Land preparation proved a mammoth task because there were huge trees that lined the hills behind their new home.
“That did not stop us as we continued with every strength we could muscle to see our plan through for a better life in our homeland,” he said proudly.
“The first few weeks proved difficult but with our spirit of unity and the will to succeed, we managed to push things through.”
The group is grateful for the support by the Agriculture Department in realising their need to start their farming venture. Senior agriculture officer (Kadavu) Epeli Dugucagi said the determination shown by the group was overwhelming because they had to start from scratch.
“They were established in Vanua Levu but had to move back to their roots. Now they have proved that through hard work anything is possible,” Mr Dugucagi said.
“The group did not wait for any assistance but decided to start without any help from Government.
“Government is trying to preach to landowners that they need to take ownership of their resources and make use of them because in the end, they will reap the benefits.
“This is what the farming group in Daviqele achieved since they started in June and now they have about 7156 yaqona plants on the ground and 7569 tausala variety, and a mix varieties of dalo.
He said this was a huge accomplishment considering the fact that Mr Vunirova’s farming group carried out their own land preparation and planting without the use of machines.
“Their hard work and sacrifices did not go unnoticed because a project proposal was drawn up by the agricultural locality officer for assistance through Government’s Rural and Outer Island Programme for next year,” Mr Dugucagi said.
“These are the kind of farmers who the Government wants to help because they have the initiative to start on their own.
“Government will play its part if they also perform well.”
Mr Vunirova says the group hopes to start harvesting their dalo in January next year.
They are also expecting to start their own dalo nursery where they will produce more dalo planting materials.
“We have a long way to go and I keep reminding my brothers that the road ahead will not be easy,” Mr Vunirova said.
“We have plans to build a better home, buy a vehicle, start a business and also take care of our children’s educational expenses.
“Our plans will not change and this is what I keep telling them because as individuals we need to make that commitment to stick to our planting programme.”
The group does not consume kava on weekdays and they also take turns to help the women.
If all goes well according to plan, Mr Vunirova’s group will have 15,000 yaqona plants by June 2011.
“That is why we feel we are racing against time,” Mr Vunirova said.
Meanwhile, farmers around the country are advised to make use of services provided by the Agriculture Department.
Many farmers are taking advantage of Government’s Demand Driven Approach (DDA) programmes. But to apply for such assistance, farmers need to contact their locality field officers and discuss their plans with them. The DDA programmes was initiated by Government 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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