Yaqona farming keeps Mere busy

25-year-old Mere Namaki Ganilau at her yaqona farm at Nabukunivatu, Wainimala, Naitasiri. Picture: SUPPLIED

Today, Mere Namaki Ganilau is a successful kava farmer and trader.

The 25-year-old Nabukunivatu, Naitasiri lass has 1000 yaqona plants that are five years old and almost ready for harvest and another 1000 which are two years old.

While Ms Ganilau’s dream job involved getting her hands dirty, it certainly wasn’t with soil.

It involved kneading dough into cakes and pastries – she began her working career as a chef.

After completing primary education at Naboro District School, Sawanikula, she attended Suva Sangam School and completed high school at Nasinu Secondary School.

“From Nasinu, I enrolled at the Pacific Institute and studied baking and pastry,” she said.

“After graduation, I started work at Manhao International Hotel in Nadi and stayed there for three years

. “While I was working there, I realised that what I was earning was very little compared to what I could get from planting on our land at home.

“Right there and then, I made the decision to return to my village and to go into agriculture.

“I didn’t let the fact that I was a girl competing in a man’s world deter me.

“I took it on as a challenge and told myself I was going to compete with all the men in the village.”

She is reaping the rewards today from the decision she made in 2016.

“Another 1000 plus yaqona plants are two years old now and what I’m doing now is cutting yaqona stems from my farm and selling them online through Facebook.

“I am getting orders from across the country, there is a big demand for yaqona stems and I am creating my own market by selling them at a reasonable price and delivering to my customers’ doorsteps.

“I also buy waka from farmers in Botenaulu, Nabukunivatu, Waibasaga and sell it at the Ba market where I sell my yaqona.”

Ms Ganilau said with her yaqona business keeping her busy, she had no time for socialising and no plans for settling down.

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