Island News

Kasavu paves way for yam farming

By Kuini Waqasavou Ministry of Primary Industries (The Crest Fiji Agriculture Show opens at Churchill Park, Lautoka, tomorrow) Kasavu Settlement is a famous stop-over for commuters along the scenic Hibiscus
05 Aug 2012 12:38

By Kuini Waqasavou
Ministry of Primary Industries
(The Crest Fiji Agriculture Show opens at Churchill Park, Lautoka, tomorrow)

Kasavu Settlement is a famous stop-over for commuters along the scenic Hibiscus Highway of Cakaudrove.
Early morning buses, trucks and cars can be seen parked at the roadside of Kasavu Settlement to grab a quick bite of something to eat and a steaming cup of tea at a make-shift canteens erected by the roadside.
Kasavu is home to 65-year-old Norman Fisher who has eight children and 13 grandchildren.
Originally from Wainikeli in Naselesele, on the garden island of Taveuni, Mr Fisher moved to Kasavu 27 years ago to start a life of his own.
“It was not easy but I have managed to come this far in life,” Mr Fisher said softly.
The hardworking man has been a farmer all his life after leaving school. He believes that agriculture is the backbone of the nation’s economy.
“It is written in the Holy Scriptures and I believe that in order for a man to survive, he needs to prove himself and what better way to do that than start your own farm,” Mr Fisher said.
Mr Fisher’s pride and glory revolves around his yam (uvi) plantation where he has scooped awards on numerous occasions at the Annual Kasavu Yam Show.
According to Mr Fisher, yams are a crop that is considered to be very fragile and should be given lots of tender, love and care.
“The amount of tender, love and care that is given to yams when they are in the ground will determine their sizes come harvesting time,” he said.
Such is his passion for yam planting that Mr Fisher decided to pass on the knowledge of yam planting to younger farmers.
“I did not want the yam planting tradition to die out in the settlement.
“I met with the late Walter Andrews and Herbert Whippy back in 1994 and we decided to form the Duavata Farmers Club which is still running today,” he said.
The Club now has 10 members who still practice the age-old tradition of yam planting with of course the knowledge passed on from its founding members.
Mr Fisher believes that in order to produce an award winning yam, one must allow the plant to have a lot of sunlight.
“The plant also needs a lot of stakes as it is a creeping plant and careful observation needs to be maintained at all times.
“That is only one of my secrets to producing award winning yams but I will not indulge in the rest or others might learn of it and produce yams that are bigger than mine.”
Mr Fisher says that the members have not limited their farming skills to yam planting alone but have also engaged in other crops and livestock.
The members have been planting other traditional root crops like kawai, tivoli and kumala.
At this year’s annual Kasavu Yam Show, Mr Fisher scooped the top prize for the heaviest yam category, weighing 137 kilograms.
“It came as no surprise and I am just hoping that come the yam show next year, someone will be able to break my record,” he said.
“There have been a lot of interest as well from neighbouring villages and settlements on yam planting materials and this just goes to show the interest in yam planting.”
The secret to his success is none other than time management.
“It is appalling to see the number of people who loiter in the villages and roads during the day when there are a million things to do on the farm.”
He admits that there is an increase in the rural to urban drift and more young men and women are leaving villages in search for better lives in urban centres.
“Jobs are scarce now and times are getting tough. I think that landowners should educate their children on the importance of using the land for a living otherwise land would be just lying idle.”
Mr Fisher has been sharing 40 acres of land with his brothers who are equally keen farmers.
He hopes for a better tomorrow for everyone, especially when it comes to food security.
“We read it in the papers and hear it on the news that millions of people around the world die because of malnutrition. We are fortunate here in Fiji that we have a lot of natural resources like the land and the sea where we can get our food from.”
But in order to have food security, Mr Fisher says people have to use the land.
“I urge youths who have moved away from rural areas and islands and are seeking jobs in the urban centres to return to their lands,” he said.
“There is so much that can be done if the heart and mind is determined to achieve results.”

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