Ex British Army Soldier Ventures Into Seaweed Farming

Twenty years ago, 43-year-old Solomoni Raogo, moved to the United Kingdom to pursue his career as a soldier with the British Armed Forces Like anyone else, it was his dream
08 Jan 2020 15:48
Ex British Army Soldier Ventures Into Seaweed Farming
Solomoni Raogo.

Twenty years ago, 43-year-old Solomoni Raogo, moved to the United Kingdom to pursue his career as a soldier with the British Armed Forces

Like anyone else, it was his dream come true as he was going to be leaving his home for a different environment and a whole new experience.

“I was born and raised in my village and attended the village school before pursuing secondary school education. I did not do well so decided to work around the village. I was fortunate enough to be hired by Toberua Is­land Resort where I was assigned to take tourists out to sea for underwater dive ses­sions,” explained Raogo.

“When a recruitment drive took place in 2000 to join the British Armed Forces, I knew straight away that I had to try it out.”

After serving 12 years from 2000 to 2013, the Kaba native in Tailevu decided that it was time to return home and put to good use all the knowledge that he had learned while away from home.

And one of the biggest lessons was the use of time.

“For 12 years it was just routine from wak­ing up till I rested for the night. It was hard at first but then once I got the hang of it, it was a piece of cake,” he smiled.

Raogo said that moving to a new country was something he only dreamed about, but he made sure that he made good use of the opportunity.

“I will always be indebted to the British Armed Forces for giving me an opportunity to serve alongside other brave soldiers from the Commonwealth countries. They instilled in me values that I will surely carry with me throughout this lifetime,” said Raogo.

He said moving back to the village was a choice he made as he felt that there were so many things to do.

“I felt that my experiences could help me change and mould the minds of the young men in the village.”

Raogo decided to take up seaweed farming.

“Back in my younger days, the elders would be farming seaweed in groups so I felt that I needed to work with the villagers that were still involved in seaweed farming and try to develop it further.”

With the little knowledge that he still re­membered about seaweed farming coupled with his thirst to learn more from the elders, Raogo slowly developed his seaweed farm.

He said people hold the perception that sea­weed farming is a lot of work.

“You just have to learn to get the basics right and once you get used to it, you will cer­tainly look forward to reaping the benefits,” he smiled.

From what started as only a few lines of sea­weed, Raogo, is now the proud farmer of over 100 lines of seaweed, which he says will only expand in the coming months.

Seaweed takes six to seven weeks before it is harvested and then taken through the whole process of drying.

The current market price is $1.50 per kilo­gram.

Raogo is grateful for the support that has been rendered by the Ministry of Fisheries especially through the provision of materi­als and technical advice.

“Most of us who are still continuing with our seaweed farming have attended a lot of trainings and workshops conducted by the ministry. We have even gone to the ex- .C tent of value adding, and we are certainly reaping the benefits of our hard work.”

Women and youths have ventured together into producing seaweed products like body lotion, oil and soap and it certainly has been an instant hit with their buyers as they have testified of its natural wonders.

Raogo says that the villagers will also try out nama (sea grapes) farming this year which has been introduced by the Ministry of Fisheries.

“I have been working with some of the youths in the village and trying to incorpo­rate life values into them as they will one day be leaders in our communities and even country.”

Raogo added that the use of time in villages and communities is still being abused espe­cially during social gatherings.

“Tools are laid down and people forget about their farms and would rather go and socialise around the grog basin,” he said.

“You see, time does not wait for anyone and if we forget to carry out a certain task, we then face the risk of losing our business at the end of the day,” stressed Raogo.

Raogo hopes that youths around the country will use time wisely and use the resources that they have around them.

Source: Ministry of Fisheries

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