“Working 12-13 hours a day on a farm is not easy, especially when you are away from your family.”
These were the words of 48 year old Mr. Ravindra Goundar, who worked as a labourer in a fruit and dairy farm in Australia and New Zealand 10 years ago.
Originally from Rakiraki, Mr. Goundar had a change of mind and made the decision to return to Fiji to start up a farm of his own when he was working in a dairy farm in New Zealand.
“Before I came back to Fiji in 2010, I used to work in a dairy farm in New Zealand where I used to wake up at 3am and start my work in the dairy farm from 4am-7pm daily and was paid $100-150 a day,” he said.
“I then changed my mind and thought that why not I work hard like this and start up my own farm in my country rather than working 13-15 hours back in a foreign country”.
“Here, there are lot of resources available and the Government of the day is also assisting and helping farmers in many ways so I thought to come back and do something here in my motherland so that the money remains here and at the same time I can stay with my family and be my own boss,” said Mr. Goundar.
After experiencing what life had to offer overseas and the struggles he faced there, Mr. Goundar bought a piece of land and started up his own farm in Qalema, Rakiraki six years ago.
“I bought three acres of land which was nothing but bush when I first bought it but with the help of my wife, we cleaned this up and started with short term crops which takes little time to harvest,” he shared.
“On the three acres of land I plant short term crops like corriander (dhania), cabbage, lettuce and tomatoes which give me good returns and I have been supplying vegetables all throughout Rakiraki, Tavua and Ba market daily and I earn about $100-$200 a day,” said Mr. Goundar.
The 48 year old spends 12 hours per day on his farm and employs three labourers.
Unfortunately for Ravindra, he lost all his crops during Tropical Cyclone Winston but he never lost hope and continued striving for the best for his farm.
“Before Tropical Cyclone Winston, my farm was full of vegetables which were almost ready for harvest but unfortunately I lost everything in my farm after Winston due to flooding as my farm is located on the river bank,” he said.
He commended the Ministry of Agriculture and the Government of India for providing and assisting farmers after the widespread devastation on his farm.
“The Ministry of Agriculture helped me in land preparation to start up my farm again after Cyclone Winston and I also received some seeds from the Ministry of Agriculture which was given by the Indian Government.
“I wish to thank the Ministry of Agriculture for supporting and encouraging us farmers especially the officers from the Ra office who visited us all the time and provided us with technical assistance in areas we lacked in and with their support and assistance I have managed to start up my own farm here in Qalema Rakiraki,” he said with a smile on his face.
Mr. Goundar plans to buy another five acres of land and extend his farm to plant other local crops in the near future.
Agriculture Assistant, Morien Prasad said Ravindra Goundar was one of the hardworking farmers in the locality who never hesitated to do things on his own.
“Mr. Ravindra Goundar is one of our hardworking farmers who never gives up with his farming,” said Ms. Prasad.
“He is a full time farmer who started off with his farming career from zero assistance from Ministry of Agriculture but since then the Ministry has assisted him with vegetable seeds, fertilizer, chemicals and later with a water pump which he loaned to use on his farm to water his vegetables,” she said.
“Mr. Goundar is a main supplier of on and off season vegetables to Rakiraki and Tavua market,” said the Agriculture Assistant.