NATION

Rural Drift, A New Paradigm Shift?

“That (what the foreigner vendors are doing) we also can do, only if we commit ourselves to our plans and visions and also work hard and smart towards achieving them,”
04 Oct 2016 11:00
Rural Drift, A New Paradigm Shift?
Kiliaoni Vunivalu(centre) while addressing the chief guest and the youths at the closing of the Empowerment Training in Nayavu, Wainibuka.Last Thursday.

“That (what the foreigner vendors are doing) we also can do, only if we commit ourselves to our plans and visions and also work hard and smart towards achieving them,” says Kiliaoni Vunivalu.

Youths are commonly perceived for their inclination towards the attraction of urban life.

Urban drift is a natural phenomenon and in many cases, youths who move initially to urban areas to study remain in the towns and cities even when they have dropped out of school or never secure any permanent employment.

It is certainly a national concern as evidenced by statements made by various Cabinet members.

However, in rural communities, the elderly make up the numbers except for certain tourism locations where landownership entitles youths to be employed in hotels and resorts.

Youths naturally would not forego their city life of fun for a laid-back village life.

However, some are reversing this trend, taking the bold step of relinquishing their jobs for a creative career back in the village.

Kiliaoni Vunivalu had worked in the hotel industry for 10 years in several properties in Nadi and on Naigani island.

Today, he is a farmer and is the president of their youth club back in his village of Namoka in Wainbuka.

“The decision wasn’t an easy one,” Mr Vunivalu said.

“I had to take it after pondering on the idea for quite a while.”

Mr Vunivalu said he had heard several stories of certain farmers who had become successful and he made inquiries and researched the matter which convinced him to return to his village.

“I had a good job in the hotel. I had a lot of friends and lots of fun and I could have stayed longer in the industry.”

“However, I couldn’t resist the urge to return to the village to utilise idle resources or land available,” said the young farmer.

Mr Vunivalu returned to Namoka earlier this year before Tropical Cyclone Winston and already made an impact not only for himself but for other youths in his village.

“We planted watermelon, cucumbers and dalo but they were all destroyed by TC Winston,” said Mr Vunivalu.

“That didn’t deter our spirits as I gathered our youths again and now we have gained momentum.”

He said members of the village youth club had a target of planting 1000 dalo plants, which they would soon achieve and to carry on from there.

“We will also soon harvest our cucumbers and water melon again,” said Mr Vunivalu. “

Apart from this, I have screen printing skills and have trained our youths to try that as well,” he said.

“We are already selling our handiwork to some villages in Wainbuka and we have some orders which we will have to deliver in October (this month).

“I am constantly urging the youths to be creative and come up with new ideas so we can earn income in the short and medium term while we wait for our dalo and so forth.”

Mr Vunivalu realised that he could become a successful farmer.

“I came to the village to utilise the land and earn from it,” he said.
“I spent some time in the Suva market and observed the Chinese vendors who are farmers and making huge dollars from their produce,” he said.

“That (what the foreigner vendors are doing) we also can do only if we commit ourselves to our plans and visions and also work hard and smart towards achieving them.”

Mr Vunivalu joined 29 other youths of Wainibuka at an empowerment training organised by the Ministry of Youth and Sports in Nayavu last month.

“Such training should be conducted more often for rural youths so they can approach things differently as the world has evolved and how things are done today,” he said.

“Youths especially those in rural areas need to adapt to the changes that are coming and their demands and the only way to address this is through training as such.”

Ministry of Youth Tailevu staff worker Vasiti Tabucakau said; “Mr Vunivalu is a dedicated and committed youth leader.

“He calls our office regarding any youth matter and his reports are always submitted on time and he delivers his youth report and contacts us regularly.

“He had such a strong and positive influence on the young people of Namoka and it’s rewarding to witness all the changes and development happening at Namoka.”

Nayavu villager Joji Turagakula used to work as well for telecommunication company Digicel and now is a farmer also in his village.

“There is much to be desired in the village,” said Mr Turagakula. “The onus is on the individual to organise himself or herself and work smart and utilise opportunities that are available for their development.”

“It was hard at first for me but now and after this training, I will surely progress another notch further.”

Minister for Youth and Sports Laisenia Tuitubou encouraged youths in past visits often telling  them to “be creative and for young people to utilise their natural resources”.

He said Government, through an integrated approach, was willing to provide assistance to interested farmers who were willing to grow from subsistence to commercial farming.

Source: Ministry of Youth and Sports

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