SUNBIZ

Former Lautoka Mayor Reaps What He Sowed

Mr Cheer turned his backyard into a plantation that drew the attention and admiration of many people, including the Ministry of Agriculture.
23 Aug 2019 13:21
Former Lautoka Mayor Reaps What He Sowed
Fani Cheer’s daughter Faith with the first water melon at the farm in Karavi on August 22 on August 22, 2019. Photo: Charles Chambers

A former mayor of  Lautoka City has turned his 10-acre farmland that had been partly submerged into part of a profitable fruit and vegetable entity.

Watermelon harvest

Seventy-five-year-old, Fani Cheer has laid down the challenge to young Fijians to toil the land.

Yesterday, Mr Cheer harvested his first crop of watermelons from his farm at Karavi, between Ba and Lautoka.

The weight of the watermelons was around 1000kg in total that has already been sought by market vendors and supermarkets.

“The price of watermelon now is around $4 a kilogram and this shows what hard work is.

“The trouble is young people and some older ones too do not have any patience in farming as they want to plant today and harvest tomorrow – it does not work that way.

“The watermelons were planted three months ago so it shows there are some crops you can plant and an on short term growth and others a bit longer.”

Mr Cheer is not a farmer or planter by trade but got the passion to do it when he and his wife, Dr Tui Taoi, bought a property at Namosau Street in Lautoka, opposite the Drasa Avenue School.

“My wife started planting flowers on our front yard and when I looked at the big back yard we had, I said to myself I better plant some vegetables and fruits otherwise we will be eating flowers,” he joked.

From left: Fani Cheer with his watermelons which he harvested at Karavi on August 22, 2019. Photo: Charles Chambers

From left: Fani Cheer with his watermelons which he harvested at Karavi on August 22, 2019. Photo: Charles Chambers

Mr Cheer turned his backyard into a plantation that drew the attention and admiration of many people, including the Ministry of Agriculture.

He was awarded the for Backyard Gardening award in 2013 during the Agriculture Show that was held in Lautoka.

“I bought this land many years ago without even looking at it and when I came to see it, I found that it was covered by the sea every high tide but that did not discourage me.

“What I did was make a good draining system around the farm and this worked as it started to drain out the saltwater.

“Now when it is high tide the drains fill up not that farmland.”

Mr Cheer employed a few youths and along with his brother Thomas and close friend Mike Brown, they turned the farm into a viable business with melon, sweet corns, eggplants, pineapple and a few other crops.

“In this area, this farm is producing unlike others and this is because of the drainage I got done.

“That is why I am calling on all youths and young unemployed men to return and work the land but you need to have patience.

“The time will come when you will reap the benefits.”

Feedbackcharles.chambers@fijisun.com.fj

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