Chand plans to expand rice farm to boost rural economy

Rice farmer Suresh Chand points out to his rice farm at Vunivau, Bua yesterday. The 53-year-old intends to expand his rice farm to contribute more towards the rural economy. Picture: SUPPLIED

For more than four decades, 53-year-old Suresh Chand has been a devoted rice farmer.

This year, the father-of-three intends to expand his rice farm and contribute accordingly to boosting the rural economy.

Mr Chand has been a rice farmer all his life, following in the footsteps of his late parents.

Through the money he earned from rice farming, Mr Chand was able to pay for his three children’s education and construct his own home.

Today they all work as engineers in different fields.

The Vunivau, Bua farmer believes farmers in rural areas around Fiji have a lot of potential to contribute towards the success of the rural economy.

“I first ventured into rice farming because this was the only source of income in Bua and at that time there was no other option,” recalled Mr Chand.

“That was how we educated our children.”

He was among the many rice farmers of a small rural community in Bua who came to Vunivau to meet Hon.Prime Minister on his first day of tour of the Northern Division this week.

The Hon.PM was accompanied by Minister for Rural and Maritime Development and Disaster Management Inia Seruiratu and other Cabinet Ministers to Vunivau, Bua this week for the handing over of a rice harvester to rice farmers in the area.

Looking back on his journey as a rice farmer, Mr Chand said one of the challenges faced by rice farmers in rural areas in Bua is the manual manning of their farm on a daily basis.

However with the provision of the new rice harvester, farmers will now cut down on labour and cost of growing rice.

“The amount of work that is done by the machine in two hours takes more than two weeks by manually doing the same job so the burden placed on rural farmers like me has been lifted.

“Farmers in rural communities like us here in Vunivau should now look at increasing their farm size because we now have a rice harvester. Harvestin is also a difficult task in rice farming but now we can cultivate large scale land that is vacant at the moment.

“There is potential in rice farming as a contributor to our rural economy and with the provision of this new rice harvester, a lot of rural farmers have contacted me to venture into large scale farming.

“I previously used to only use six acres of my land to plant rice but now I intend to increase it to 10 acres.

“Now is the time for rice farmers like us and I believe we can revive the rice industry in Fiji, making a small contribution towards improving the rural economy,” he added.

Meanwhile, during his recent visit to the North, Hon.Seruiratu called for the reactivation of the rice taskforce led by the Office of the Commissioner Northern Division.

Minister Seruiratu said that Fiji needed to revive and increase rice production in the country.

More Stories