SUNBIZ

Nabulikula Club Invests In Landowners, Fights Poverty

“We talk around the grog bowl about what iTaukei people should do, but I had the means to actually do it, so I got some money, we discussed the concept and we got straight into it.
12 Nov 2019 04:42
Nabulikula Club Invests In Landowners, Fights Poverty
Workers plant yams.

Alleviating poverty in villages was the main reason Nabulikula Club was formed in October 2014.

It was through two friends, who grew up and farmed together in Kalabu, who gave birth to the vision of helping landowners utilise communally owned land to financially self-sustain them.

In an interview, Tower Insurance General Manager Veilawa Rereiwasaliwa said he and Anasa Tawake wanted to make a difference.

“We talk around the grog bowl about what iTaukei people should do, but I had the means to actually do it, so I got some money, we discussed the concept and we got straight into it.

“We had set a specific target like plant 100,000 dalo tops, 100,000 mounds of cassava and then we moved on to helping other individual farmers and villages.”

Investment

Mr Rereiwasaliwa said so far he had invested $190,000 in the various club projects and it had paid off. But for him, it wasn’t always about getting a return.

“The first lot was $150,000 for the Kalabu farm. What I wanted to do, I knew that I couldn’t succeed without actually addressing the supply of seedlings because if we don’t have a consistent supply of seedlings, we couldn’t really help other farmers because [seedlings] were expensive.

“Most of the money went into getting the seedlings, we had to plant 100,000 dalo tops to plant in the first year. We bought a digger and then a pickup truck.

“For five years, Kalabu has gone through drastic weather changes, insects damaging the crop, cyclones and stealing.”

The club has numerous projects, with Mr Tawake assisting 23 individual farmers.

“Projects that we’ve assisted that is still running include Tawake’s farms, Revurevu ni Cagi in Delaivalelevu, Kalabu village, Ketei in Totoya, Lau, Natila in Tailevu, Togalevu and Lami Methodist Circuit in Valenicina, Lami.

“Revurevu ni cagi made $9,000 last year just from ginger and dalo harvest and that’s a small church, this is their second year of harvest.

“In Natila village they plant yaqona for their own consumption, and what we advised them to do was to expand their farms so that they can build their church.

“Some of the boys working for Tawake, they also have their own farms, one of them harvested his ginger and made $8,000, two of them made more than $2,000 each.”

Some of the youths of Ketei village in Totoya, Lau, take a selfie at their yaqona farm.

Some of the youths of Ketei village in Totoya, Lau, take a selfie at their yaqona farm.

Challenges

Mr Rereiwasaliwa admitted there were some failed projects because of people’s mentality.

He said one of the problems they faced in the village was the people’s definition of large farms.

“For them 200 dalo plants is big to them, but for us big is 100,000.

“One of the things that we’ve learned is that not all the people know how to farm. It was a big transition from backyard farming to planting large scale farming.

“It’s hard to sustain the farm. A few of the guys had the unemployment mentality; where they think they can do what they want, for a commercial farmer you work for eight hours in a day.”

Mr Rereiwasaliwa said people didn’t work their cash flow well and had a problem with reinvesting the funds.

“The money you make is not simple maths; you can’t tell what you’ll make until you uproot [crop].

“You have got to have some contingency money. Dalo takes eight-nine months to harvest depending on what breed. In that gap, you have got to have money so you can feed your family. People didn’t work their cash flow well.”

Ketei Village in Totoya, Lau

Referencing his maternal village, Mr Rereiwasaliwa said they started yaqona planting in the village and for the first time commercial farming of ginger in June this year.

“The role of the Nabulikula club there is to really provide advice to the people of Ketei.

“What I did was actually help them formulate a five-year development plan and that plan was the overarching plan for all other projects in the village.”

He said they planned for the construction of a secondary school and dormitories that would not only educate the children of Ketei but also generate employment.

“We estimated that the project will cost us $500,000.  We planned to plant 5,000 yaqona plants, which will earn us more than $500,000 in three years’ time.

“I funded that project as part of the Nabulikula Club. We planted 1,500 plants and we have five stages of planting to finish off that 5,000.

“Out of the 5,000, 1,000 go to the church and the rest for the school.”

Mr Rereiwasaliwa said they also planned to harvest the 40 acre-farm in their village to repair houses and build an investment portfolio.

“Harvesting the pine would employ about 20-30 people.”

While the ginger farm is to generate employment, it is also a lucrative business, as it can also supply seedlings to other village members to start their own farms, he added.

“We will harvest half of the baby ginger in March next year and the other half we will invest in August.”

All these projects, he said, was to curb rural to urban migration.

Ketei village youths plant ginger.

Ketei village youths plant ginger.

Nabulikula Club assistance

For Ketei village, Mr Rereiwasaliwa funded the yaqona plants and Mr Tawake provided ginger seedlings.

For Natila village in Tailevu, Mr Tawake provided the ginger seedlings and dalo tops.

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