NEWS

Pal’s Leap Of Faith Pays Off

Before he took up farming, Mr Pal was a cook for a road construction company contracted to build the road on Taveuni.
13 Apr 2022 16:36
Pal’s Leap Of Faith Pays Off
Jai Pal (left) with family members that assist him at his farm in Qila, Taveuni.

A sheer leap of faith to move from Labasa to Taveuni was a decision Jai Pal does not regret, even 23 years later.

Mr Pal, whose farm is in Qila on the Garden Island, started from nothing in 1999. He was then 28 years old.

Today, he leases a 39-acre parcel of land, built his home worth $150k, bought a vehicle to assist in carting produce from his farm to the buyers and has also bought a property in Labasa for his children’s accommodation while they study.

Before he took up farming, Mr Pal was a cook for a road construction company contracted to build the road on Taveuni.

“At this time, I was so desperate to work that I took up an offer to become a cook. Mind you, I barely know how to cook and most times I was eating first while cooking,” he said.

“I loved all the experiences I had before I found my passion in dalo farming. An uncle of mine encouraged me to farm on the island. I grabbed the opportunity.”

He built up his farm from loans and planting materials given to him by his neighbours.

Like all hardworking farmers, Mr Pal is often up early to start his farm work at 7am and only returns home at 5pm.

At 51, Jai Pal is now a seasoned dalo and yaqona farmer. He also plants vegetables with the help of three laborers and his two sons.

He has nine acres of land for yaqona, which is close to maturing at four-years-of age. For his dalo, Mr Pal does phase-planting till it matures at seven months, and covers 12 acres of land.

He is estimated to earn around $180k for his yaqona, while dalo would fetch him $60k.

Not only has he re-invested in the land, his 5000 yaqona-plants were fortunate enough to have missed the wrath of Tropical Cyclone Winston, allowing him to build his family home and buy his vehicle from its sale.

“I am not boasting. I am trying to encourage and show others what the benefits farming can give you. I started with nil balance in my account. I want to motivate those who are still double-minded to be risk takers and with hard work, you will excel,” he said.

Despite his hard work, theft and damage to his farm caused by roaming livestock, were issues farmers like Mr Pal face.

“There are always people who come in and reap our sweat by stealing,” he said.

Mr Pal looks forward to continue farming with plans to establish an irrigation system to improve production and rent a table at the Labasa Market to sell his produce from.

Feedback:  jyotip@fijisun.com.fj

 

 



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