‘Farming is my life’

Viliame Turaganivalu. Picture: ABHISHEK CHAND

IT’S 8am in the bustling town of Navua, about 40 minutes drive from Suva.

As people rushed by to catch their buses to work, Viliame Turaganivalu is seen walking up from a small makeshift jetty beside the market, with his crate of tomatoes.

The 48-year-old had just come in from Beqa Island with more than 10 crates and several big bags of tomatoes.

Helped by his son, they carried their crates up from the Navua river bank.

They were on their way to Suva where most of the produce would be sold.

But even as he placed his crates, market vendors and passersby stopped by to inspect the produce.

Two buyers quickly snapped up two crates which went for $40 each.

“I come every two weeks with my produce,” said the Dakuibeqa villager.

“Even as I pack my produce into a hired transport for Suva, many people would stop me to buy it cash front,” he smiled.

His wrinkled face, weather-beaten from working under the sun, Viliame says the income generated from his farming, is worth every sweat.

Every two weeks, he takes home about $1000 in earnings.

He supplies tomatoes, watermelon, cassava, dalo, yaqona and cucumber to market vendors both in Navua and Suva.

“I plant on my three and a half acre land and every three months, I harvest my tomatoes and other vegetables. But my yaqona plants takes about two to three years to mature. It’s a great income generation but I plan my harvest in such a way that I am regularly making an income.”

Mr Turaganivalu has been farming from the day he left high school.

“It’s all I’ve ever known,” he smiled.

“I put all four of my children to school, through farming. One of them is a school teacher, a son has followed me into farming, while the two younger ones are attending secondary and primary school.”

“Farming is my gold. One thing I tell the young men in the village is to be smart, the land is your investment. “There is a market out there, you just have to work hard to make your money… the more you plant the more you earn.”

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