SUNBIZ

From Minibus Driver To Yaqona Success

Mr Calati was awarded the Crop Farmer of the Year Eastern during the Central-Eastern Agriculture Show held in Nausori on Friday.
18 Oct 2020 12:00
From Minibus Driver To Yaqona Success
Jone Calati during the Central-Eastern Agriculture Show on October 16, 2020. Photo: Lusiana Tuimaisala

My millions are in my land, says Jone Calati.

Mr Calati was awarded the Crop Farmer of the Year Eastern during the Central-Eastern Agriculture Show held in Nausori on Friday.

“I was not expecting this achievement, and I thank God for the wisdom, knowledge and understanding that has allowed me to come this far,” Mr Calati said.

“I gave a try when I started planting yaqona in my village, and I didn’t dream that it would succeed.”

Mr Calati was recognised for being the first farmer to successfully plant yaqona commercially in Yadrana, Lakeba, in Lau and was successful.

The 42-year-old said: “I was a minibus driver for nearly 10 years, and I decided to go back to my village and plant yaqona.”

In 2016, he bought his yaqona plants from Namosi worth of $5000.

“Today, I have planted 34,000 yaqona plants.”

He also plant yams and pandanus on the island.

Mr Calati said in 2019 the Ministry of Agriculture bought 5.2 tonnes of yam at $3 a kilogram, and 4.5 tonne in 2020 as TC Harold rehabilitation.

The total sale including sales at the Suva Municipal Market was $58,100.00, he said.

Kava sale

Mr Calati’s first phase of kava sales in 2020 was $220,000.

From this money, he managed to purchase a three-tonne truck and bought a kava shop in Cunningham stage two, where he now runs his kava business known as Lakeba Kava.

He employs 24 per cent of youths in his village on his kava, uvi, pandanus, copra drier and fishing farm.

“We get our yaqona supply from Lau every two weeks,” he said.

Mr Calati left school in Year Five.

He has encouraged everyone in our 14 province in Fiji, and to wake up make use of the land plant yaqona and root crops and stop relying so much on government freebies.

Feedback: lusiana.tuimaisala@fijisun.com.fj

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