Ginger farmer strives on

By KUINI WAQASAVOU (The writer works for the Ministry of Agriculture) Ginger harvesting is currently the buzz up in the hills of Lomaivuna in Naitasiri and the young and old
24 Feb 2013 11:35

Hari Pal is flanked by extension officer Savenaca Tuivaga (left) and his son Nilesh Pal at his farm in Lomaivuna, Naitasiri.

(The writer works for the Ministry of Agriculture)

Ginger harvesting is currently the buzz up in the hills of Lomaivuna in Naitasiri and the young and old have seized the opportunity to assist each other in harvesting the five-month crop.
The Agriculture Department caught up with 59-year-old Hari Pal of Sector 5 farming community in Lomaivuna to see how his harvesting turned out.
Originally from Taveuni, Hari moved to Lomaivuna at a young age with his family to pursue their farming dreams.
With his hardworking family members, Hari strived on becoming the best that he could be.
Now with four children and six grand-children, Hari is still walking the talk and still proving to the farming community that he is still a force to reckon with.
With 10 acres of land, Hari has been consistently planting ginger, dalo and cassava for the local markets.
When ginger was first introduced back in 1987, Hari was one of the farmers who began with ginger production.
“It was a totally new crop for us but through the years, I mastered the art of ginger farming,” explained Hari.
This year, Hari harvested a total of eight tonnes of ginger even though he expected to harvest more.
“Most of my ginger turned yellow because of excessive rain but I know that I will have to improve on my drainage systems come the next planting season in September,” explained Hari.
Hari, like all the other farmers in Lomaivuna have been supplying their ginger to Freshpac Company in Wailada, Lami.
“We have been getting $900 per tonne and that is good money for five months worth of sweat,” smiled Hari.
He added that assistance from his son and other family members have given him the edge on his daily activities.
“There is not a moment to be wasted as we have so many things to do on the farm.”
“I love farming because it keeps me fit and healthy and also provides for our family meals every single day,” he said proudly.
Hari is also planting vegetables on his farm as well as raising poultry for food security purposes.
The diligent farmer has been working closely with agriculture officers on the technical aspects of farming for various crops.
“I am grateful for their visits and monitoring of our farms and always giving us technical advice to ensure that we are on the right track with our farming programmes.”
According to principal agriculture officer (Central) Tepola Seniloli, the Lomaivuna Development Scheme started in the 1960s where farmers from outer islands, especially in the Lau Group were settled to earn their living from farming.
“Their major crop was banana and then later changed to ginger and other root crops such as dalo and cassava,” said Ms Seniloli.
“The ginger acreage to date is 50 acres and there are a total of 145 ginger farmers who are currently planting ginger from sectors 1-8 in Lomaivuna.”
Ms Seniloli added that the interest for ginger farming has increased due to its maturity span as well as its income.
She went on to say that the much anticipated market for ginger to Australia is also good news for the hardworking farmers.
“The farmers will be required to work extra hard once ginger exports begin and there will be more trainings and awareness programmes that will be conducted by the Ministry,” she said. Hari shared the same sentiments and said that the onus is on the farmers now to perform to the best of their abilities.
“Once the market is opened, we will need to maintain it,” stressed Hari.
“There will be competition from other countries, but we as farmers need to ensure that all proper planting methods as well as maintenance of farms is strictly followed.”
In the meantime, Hari will continue planting dalo and cassava and wait for the next ginger planting season which will be conducted in September.
He was also assisted under the Rehabilitation programme by the Ministry of Agriculture whereby he received vegetable seeds.
Hari says that farming for a living is an enjoyable profession for him because he is his own employer and reaps great rewards from it.
“Not only that, I plant my own food and in turn, this daily routine keeps me fit and healthy.”

Fijisun E-edition
Total Excellium
Fiji Sun Instagram