Leaving behind a luxurious life overseas to take up farming in Fiji is uncommon, especially when you are a young man.
Yet, Mr. Navketan Singh Aujla of Navau, Ba did exactly this as he opted to return from New Zealand to take over the family farm in Ba.
His family members are in New Zealand and while there, he was heavily involved in the affairs of their family business, but it did not take too long for Aujla to think of his grandfather, Mr. Ujagar Singh, a retired school teacher and former Member of Parliament, who remained in Ba in his attempts to fulfil his dream of becoming a successful commercial farmer.
Aujla made up his mind to return, be with his ageing aja (grandfather) and offer a helping hand.
“My grandfather did not want to leave the farm and go to New Zealand with the rest of the family and he had some big dreams for his farm. I saw he was very passionate about farming and always talked about his will to develop the farm into an integrated system.”
“While in New Zealand, I always thought about him and one day decided that I will go back and join him in the farm,” he said.
Aujla said he just wanted to see his grandfather’s dream come to fruition and for that he could sacrifice anything just to bring a smile on his grandfathers’ face.
Upon returning from New Zealand, Aujla did not waste any time and dove head first into the business and initially set plans on how to further develop the farm.
“I believe that every farmer needs to diversify their farms and not just depend on one single commodity,” said the ambitious Aujla.
He added that he wanted to set an example to farmers of his community, especially youths, that when utilised well, the land could give you more than what was usually perceived.
“Most of the time when farmers are not successful in farming, they get disheartened and turn to other things that takes them down a wrong path but I believe that if they are involved in different types of farming, it will keep them occupied and it can cover up for any commodity that is not successful. This is the concept that I am trying to adopt for my farm here.”
In the last two years since he took up farming, Aujla admitted that he encountered challenges. He adopted a trial and error method and did a lot of research about all the aspects of different types of farming.
“I have constantly been in contact with the agriculture officials from Ba office for any technical advice,” he said.
“I also did my own research, while Google and YouTube also helped me a lot in discovering some modern techniques of farming,” he smiled.
His farm is now popularly known as Aujla Farms. Together with sugar cane on his farm, Aujla tried to come up with different types of farming and he is currently doing poultry (layer) on large scale.
Aujla Farms has been involved in a number of farming projects ranging from poultry farming to pig farming and at the moment he has more than a thousand birds on his farm, supplying over 3,500 eggs every week to the wholesalers.
He also has some cattle and his plans are to increase the stock number and develop more pastures for these cattle.
Aujla said that their aim is to be a market leader not only in livestock but also to diversify into vegetable production. “The potential and growth of our venture is endless as the ever growing demand for fresh meat and vegetables increases and also the reduction of the younger generation taking up farming,” he stated.
Aujla Farms currently employs four full time and a few part time workers who are from nearby areas.
Aujla says as his farm will develop from semi-commercial to a commercial level and there will be far greater employment opportunities for unemployed people from the nearby village.
Recently during the 2017 Western Division Agriculture Show in Nadi, Aujla was recognized for his hard work where he received two awards during the Farmer Awards Night.
He was rewarded with the Best Poultry Farmer of the Year Award and the overall award for being the Best Livestock Farmer in the Western Division.
After receiving his award, Aujla dedicated it to his grandfather who had been the reason for his success.
Recently Assistant Minister for Agriculture Hon. Viam Pillay also visited his farm while on his tour to the Ba area.
Hon. Pillay has assured Aujla that the Ministry of Agriculture will work very closely with him in ensuring his farming plans are fulfilled.
He thanked Aujla for choosing farming as his profession and being a role model to other youth in his community and the country.